Gov. Rick Perry on Friday set a March 2 special runoff election to fill the open seat created by the death of the late state Sen. Mario Gallegos. The race, between state Rep. Carol Alvarado and former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, will occur just six days before the deadline for lawmakers to file bills in the 83rd legislative session.

Because Harris County has 10 days to canvass those results and the governor’s office has an additional four days after that, the spring election likely means Senate District 6 will not have representation until mid-March. The winner cannot take her oath until the governor’s office performs its official canvass, the secretary of state’s office confirmed last month.

Perry spokesman Josh Havens said the March 2 date was the earliest possible runoff date after Harris County performed its canvass on Feb. 4. Garcia was the top vote-getter in the general election on Jan. 26, when she garnered 7,416 votes to Alvarado’s 6,803. Fewer than 16,000 voters turned out on that Saturday election day, about 5.6 percent of registered voters.

Both women have histories in Houston government; Garcia served as city controller, and Alvarado served on the Houston City Council before being elected to the Texas House in 2008.

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