WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — What’s essentially been a non-issue in the District 13 Congressional race has been brought to the forefront again with the Wichita County Republican Party releasing a statement on concerns with Lee Harvey running for Congress while keeping his job as a Wichita County Commissioner.
The statement addresses the intent of the Texas resign to run law, filing date and using the commissioner seat as a platform to run.
Harvey and Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said they’re doing everything by the book and only time will tell what Harvey’s future as a commissioner is as this election moves forward.
Texas law requires elected officials to resign automatically when running for another elected position.
Harvey is running for Congress and still serves as commissioner, accepting benefits, but returning his salary to the county.
“It’s really been, in my opinion, a blessing for our county, there’s no good ole boy thing going on here, it was a good business decision that the judge asked me to do and I said ‘absolutely’,” Harvey said.
“We reviewed this with legal counsel to make sure we were following everything correctly and I think he has served this well as compared to having an interim person come in,” Gossom said.
Wichita County Republican Party has concerns that Harvey didn’t file in time for a replacement to be found.
“There’s also a holdover clause in their law that allows me to continue to serve until my replacement has been sworn in, trained and sworn in,” Harvey said.
“I’ve got him in the best position of all, if I appoint him as commissioner I can’t fire him, but right now the position he’s in, I can appoint someone else tomorrow and say goodbye Lee,” Gossom said.
Another issue the stated is that the law is supposed to discourage officials from using their positions as platforms to run for other offices.
“I’m not dressed for campaigning, I’m dressed for working, we’ve been in court all morning, but before that, I was at my precinct barn,” Harvey said.
Harvey said he believes if he were to win the Republican primary for Congress, he would like to spend his time campaigning and help train a successor.
“I wouldn’t take office until January of 2021 so I would spend all my time with whoever would be my replacement, teaching them everything that I know, just getting them up to speed,” Harvey said.
If he doesn’t win that Republican nomination for Congress, Harvey said he would want his county seat back for another term.
“The precinct chairs, there’s three of them in Precinct 2, would select someone to be placed on the ballot, if I was not successful I would certainly hope that I would be their selection,” Harvey said.
The pieces have yet to fall into place for the future of Harvey’s role as commissioner or congressman, but its weighing on the primary election.
Harvey said he hasn’t heard any concerns from other candidates, constituents or voters.
Republican Party chair Annette Barfield said it’s fine for Harvey to run for Congress but it affects the County Commissioners.
“Even though we see US Senators and US Representatives run for President while still holding their seat in Congress, Texas does not work that way. The Texas Constitution (Article 16, Section 65) provides that county elected officials automatically resign their current position once they announce or file for another office, if there is more than one year and 30 days remaining on their existing term.
This Article came into play when Precinct 2 Commissioner Lee Harvey filed for US Representative District 13 on Dec. 6th. While he effectively resigned his position when he filed, he did not file in time to allow someone else (through an allowable extended filing period) to file for the position he was vacating. The unexpired term for that position must be on the ballot in November 2020. Section 202.006(1) of the Texas Election Code states that in the event a vacancy occurs after the 5th day before the filing deadline (Dec 9, 2019), the Precinct Executive Committee may nominate an individual to serve the unexpired term on the General Election ballot in November. The nomination will be made by those taking office as Precinct Chairs in Precinct 2 after June 15th, 2020.
The law is supposed to discourage officeholders from using their positions as platforms to run for other offices. Per Texas Local Government Code 87.042, the County Judge is authorized to appoint a suitable resident of the Precinct to serve in the position until the November 2020 election, although there is no deadline for such appointment. Per the Texas Constitution Article 16, Section 17, all officers of this State shall continue to perform the duties of their offices until their successors shall be duly qualified. This was further clarified in AG Opinion GA-550 (2007).Wichita County Republican Party