By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
After 18 years in office, District 55 state Rep. Dianne White Delisi announced Thursday she will not finish out her ninth term in the Texas House of Representatives.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Delisi said she submitted to the governor her letter of resignation, effective immediately.
Though she announced this would be her final term more than a year ago, the Temple Republican said her abrupt resignation lies in her decision to "begin a new chapter in my life. I am eager to pursue new civic, professional and personal goals."
Delisi said in her statement she has made all the appropriate arrangements to ensure the requirements of her office will be properly attended to during the remainder of her term.
The early retirement of the 18-year veteran of the House of Representatives throws a bit of a kink into the race for the open District 55 seat among Republican Ralph Sheffield, Democrat Sam Murphey and Libertarian Chris Lane.
According to the secretary of state's election code, the governor must announce a special election to cover the term between the general election and Jan. 13, when freshman representatives are sworn in.
Representatives from both the Murphey and Sheffield campaigns confirmed that Delisi did call the respective candidates before making her announcement Thursday afternoon.
But those candidates now have to contend with a special election as well. While representatives of both major parties believe the governor will choose to have the special election Nov. 4, the same time as the general election, it will add a few complications to the process.
Bell County Republican Party Chair Nancy Boston said she feels certain that the special election will occur Nov. 4 as well.
The secretary of state's guidelines state the governor must set a date within 20 days.
On the Nov. 4 ballot, the standard general election will include the presidential, senatorial and congressional races, as well as all the local races, including District 55 state representative. At the bottom of the ballot there will be a separate section with a box specifically for special elections.
Representatives with Sheffield's and Murphey's campaigns indicated they likely will file for the special election, which will be open for others who choose to file for the short term.
A source in the Sheffield camp said they are focused on the general election, but the benefits of winning the special election include having seniority over other incoming freshmen lawmakers in the next session, as well as some logistical benefits, such as hiring staff and being in place by the time the next session begins.
Murphey said he's concerned about the special election confusing the public.
"I have an inclination that it might cause a little confusion," Murphey said. "I'm interested in how it all breaks out. I don't know if I want to get involved in a special election or not."
Murphey, like Sheffield, said he is intent on focusing on the general election.
There is one last complication on the ballot. Anyone who votes straight party on the ballot must vote specifically in the special election in order for their vote to count.
At the time of her retirement, Delisi was a member of the Executive Committee of the Council for The Forum for State Health Policy Leadership for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.