The decision comes a week and a half after the closing of the filing period to run for state elected office as a Democrat or Republican and leaves Burleson insurance agent Darren Yancy as the sole candidate left to campaign in the GOP primary.
No Democrats have filed to run for Averitt’s seat, which covers McLennan, Coryell, Falls, Bosque, Hill, Navarro, Somervell, Hood, Johnson and Ellis counties.
Averitt, 55, a certified public accountant, has represented Waco since 1992, when he was elected to the state House. He issued a statement to the Tribune-Herald that said in recent years he has struggled to balance health and the interests of his family with his role as a public servant.
“I have been advised that I must now put my health above all else — for me and my family — and it is with deep regret that I announce today the cessation of my Senate campaign,” the release states.
Averitt, a moderate Republican with tenure and respect from colleagues across the aisle, was in line for more power in the upcoming session.
In 2005, Averitt pushed to restore funding and loosen eligibility rules for Texas’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, which had been cut in the previous legislative session. He’s also been involved in crafting the state’s budget.
And as chairman of the influential Natural Resources Committee, he has been a strong voice for the creation of local groundwater-conservation districts and long-term planning of the state’s water.
On Dec. 10, Averitt and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst attended a Tribune-Herald editorial board meeting together. Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, said at the time that Averitt’s name was in the mix to head the powerful Senate Finance Committee in the upcoming legislative session. On Dec. 23, Averitt filed for re-election.
So ... three weeks after filing, and ten days after the deadline, the candidates remaining are Averitt's primary challenger, TeaBaggin' Darren Yancey (disregard the ECO's bragging) and one of two Libertarians that gets chosen at their March 13 convention (Tim Ballard of Cleburne or Ben Faulkner of Red Oak). Harvey Kronberg at Quorum Report has video from Yancey's aborted run at Cong. Chet Edwards:
Harvey also provides this, in a 11:47 p.m. update:
"If Averitt withdraws after winning the primary, then the Republican District Executive Committee (comprised of the County Chairmen from each of the counties SD 22, Sec 171.054) selects his replacement (not the SREC/SDEC); and the Democratic District Executive Committee also gets to nominate an opponent (Sec. 145.036). No litigation necessary."
That's also verified in this update from Michael Shapiro at the Waco Trib:
If GOP voters pick Averitt in the primary and he then withdraws, both parties would have the opportunity to name replacement candidates. Those candidates would be picked by the two parties’ District Executive Committees, which consist of party chairmen from the 10 counties in the district.
This district is pretty solidly red, but Averitt's withdrawal gives Democrats and independents a shot at an unexpected open Texas Senate. More developing.
Update: More inside baseball from the TexTrib.