The seat in Congress expected to be vacated by Rep. John Ratcliffe must be filled by an election.
Unlike with vacant Senate seats, which can be filled by a governor's interim appointment, voters must decide who will fill a vacant House of Representatives seat, according to Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. In practice that most often means governors call special elections to choose new representatives, but if a vacancy occurs late in a congressional term, a governor may opt to leave the seat empty until the next general election.
If and when Ratcliffe, a Repbulican, officially resigns, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will call a special election, a spokesperson in Abbott's press office said Monday.
On Sunday, President Donald Trump tweeted that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats will leave office Aug. 15 and Trump will appoint Ratcliffe to replace him. Ratcliffe has represented Texas' 4th Congressional District, which includes Bowie County, since 2014.
"I am deeply grateful to President Trump for the opportunity to lead our Nation's intelligence community and work on behalf of all the public servants who are tirelessly devoted to defending the security and safety of the United States," Ratcliffe stated Sunday in a series of tweets.
"President Trump's call to serve in this role was not one I could ignore, and I am incredibly thankful to him for this great honor. I look forward to my new role with energy and focus. It has been the privilege of my lifetime to be the voice for the people of the Fourth District of Texas over the past five years. I will take their wisdom and common sense with me in my new role, and I will always remember with pride my service to them, and all that we have accomplished together," he stated.
Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek on Sunday tweeted that state Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, is "looking at" running for the 4th District seat.
Ratcliffe previously worked in the Department of Justice, beginning with a 2004 appointment by President George W. Bush, who named him Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for the Eastern District of Texas. In 2007, Ratcliffe was appointed U.S. attorney for the same district. U.S. attorneys serve as federal prosecutors and otherwise represent the federal government in court.
Ratcliffe successfully challenged 17-term incumbent Rep. Ralph Hall—the oldest person to ever serve in the House—in the 2014 Republican primary election and ran unopposed for the 4th District seat in that year's general election. Hall died in March 2019 at age 95.
Ratcliffe won re-election in 2016 and 2018. He has served on the Judiciary Committee, Intelligence Committee, Homeland Security Committee and Ethics Committee.
A graduate of Notre Dame University and Dedman Law School at Southern Methodist University, he is married and has two daughters.