The state Capitol building on Aug. 11, 2021.

Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

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At least eight candidates have filed for the Aug. 31 special election to fill the seat of former state Rep. Jake Ellzey, R-Waxahachie, who is now in Congress, according to the secretary of state’s office.

The filing deadline was 5 p.m. Thursday. It was not immediately clear what the final list of candidates was.

Ellzey was sworn in to Congress late last month after winning the special election runoff for the 6th Congressional District, upsetting fellow Republican Susan Wright, who had the endorsement of ex-President Donald Trump, to replace her late husband in Congress. That created a vacancy in Texas House District 10, a reliably red district covering mostly rural areas south and southeast of Dallas.

The five candidates include four Republicans and one Democrat. They are:

  • Independent Scott Goodwin of Waxahachie, who listed his occupation as “V.P. development”
  • Republican Kevin Griffin, a Midlothian general manager
  • Republican Brian Harrison, the former Trump administration official who ran in the special election for the 6th Congressional District
  • Republican Susan Mellina Hayslip, a Waxahachie attorney
  • Democrat Pierina Otiniano, an Ennis immigration attorney
  • Libertarian Matt Savino of Seven Points, who listed his occupation as “I.T. support”
  • Republican Clark Wickliffe, a member of the Midlothian City Council
  • Republican John Wray, the former HD-10 representative who decided not to seek reelection in 2020

The most competitive candidates so far appear to be Wray and Harrison. Wray held the seat from 2015 until Ellzey took office in January, and he launched his special election campaign early with the swift backing of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the deep-pocketed tort reform group.

Harrison, the former chief of staff at the Department of Health and Human Services, was the third-place Republican finisher in the crowded May special election for the 6th Congressional District, which overlaps most of HD-10. Harrison began his latest special election campaign with the support of the anti-abortion Texas Right to Life, and he is already airing TV ads.

Early voting for the HD-10 special election starts Aug. 23. If no candidate receives a majority in the first round of voting, the top two finishers will proceed to a runoff.

Disclosure: Texans for Lawsuit Reform has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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