The special election for HD48 to replace the outgoing Todd Baxter has been set for January 17.
The January race will be a prelude to the March primaries and November general election, in which voters will choose someone for a two-year term that starts in January 2007.
The winner of the special election is expected to serve in a 30-day legislative session next spring that will focus on changing the state's system of paying for public schools. The state Supreme Court ruled last week that the tax structure that pays for education violates the Texas Constitution and gave lawmakers until June 1 to fix it.
Republican Ben Bentzin, a former Dell executive, is expected to run in the special election. On the Democratic side, lawyer Andy Brown, former Eanes school board member Donna Howard and former Austin school trustee Kathy Rider are looking at the race. Kelly White, who almost beat Baxter last year, also has considered a run.
Bentzin, who can tap his own fortune to pay for a quick campaign, quickly positioned himself as the Republican frontrunner for the nomination. Local Democrats have debated whether to unite behind one candidate to take him on, but the candidates who were planning to run before Baxter quit have been unwilling to step aside.
Several candidates from one party can run in a special election. If nobody grabs a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters will meet in a runoff.
The January Election is an open free for all election. All Republicans and Democrats run against each other. The top 2 go to run off in February. The winner of all that then is the State Rep for the Spring Special session that will likely be called for March-June because of the school finance ruling that set the June 1 deadline or else schools shut down.
There is still the regular primary in March which will decide the nominees for the November general election.
Say it is Bentzin (R) Howard (D) Brown (D) & Rider (D)
They duke it out in the open special, winner wins. They all could potentially run again (and have new challengers) in their party primaries in March. So given that, the following is actually a possible scenario.
January Open Special Election: Bentzin & Brown go to run-off
February Run-off: Brown wins, serves as elected Rep for any Spring Special Session
March Primary: Bentzin wins the Republican nomination, Brown goes to run-off with Howard for an April Run-off, forcing him to campaign during the middle of the special session
April Run-off: Howard wins Democratic nomination and campaigns against Bentzin for November election, while Brown serves out the rest of the term as the elected lame-duck rep, while the session is still going on!