Republican Michael Cloud won the special election to succeed U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold on Saturday night, maintaining the GOP’s stronghold over a region that spans from the Coastal Bend to Bastrop and Caldwell counties.
Farenthold, a Republican from Corpus Christi, resigned in April amid sexual harassment accusations and after news surfaced that he spent $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a lawsuit related to the claims.
Cloud emerged from a packed field of candidates — three Republicans, three Democrats, two independents and one Libertarian — with 55 percent of the vote, avoiding the need for a runoff election. Democrat Eric Holguin finished second with 32 percent of votes.
Cloud, the former Victoria County GOP chairman, will serve the remainder of Farenthold’s term, which ends in January. He and Holguin will again square off in November for a full term in the seat.
In an interview, Cloud told the American-Statesman that he was honored and humbled by the support from voters.
“I’ve said often that you have to work to earn every vote. The voters deserve the effort,” he said. “We still have a November election, so we’ll keep working for that.”
Though he will serve just a few months in office before the general election, Cloud said he hopes to build relationships in Washington that will benefit the residents of his district, particularly veterans and those still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
Gov. Greg Abbott, who endorsed Cloud earlier this week, used his emergency authority related to disaster relief to call for Saturday’s special election, citing the district’s need for a voice in Washington to advocate for Harvey relief funds.
Many of the coastal counties in the 27th Congressional District were ravaged by Harvey’s 130 mph winds and record rainfall, and some are still struggling to recover.
Abbott took to Twitter on Saturday night to voice his support of Cloud’s election.
“Congratulations to CONGRESSMAN Michael Cloud on winning the special election for Congressional District 27, beating a field of candidates without a runoff. #CD27 now has representation to help respond to #HurricaneHarvey,” the post read.
Holguin posted a video statement to Facebook after his defeat, calling the special election “just a sparring match.”
“The real fight is in November,” Holguin said. “This is just to fill the remainder of a lame-duck term. So I hope Cloud doesn’t get too comfortable, because in November we’re going to be coming hard; we’re going to be coming strong.”
More than 36,000 ballots were cast in the special election, 60 percent during early voting. Cloud won the majority of votes in all counties, including a close contest in Nueces County, where he received 8,004 votes to Holguin’s 7,787.
Voters from Bastrop and Caldwell counties cast a combined 2,216 ballots.