Texas water board chairman Bech Bruun resigns ahead of likely challenge to U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold

Bech Bruun, chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, resigned Thursday from that position ahead of an anticipated bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi. 

“Serving as the Chairman of the Texas Water Development Board has been the privilege of a lifetime,” Bruun wrote in a letter dated Dec. 7 to Gov. Greg Abbott obtained by The Texas Tribune. “Recent events, namely the impacts of Hurricane Harvey, have led my family and me to the belief that the time has come for me to focus my passion for public service closer to home.”

Bruun is expected to file to run as a Republican for Texas’ 27th Congressional District as early as Friday. 

Bruun, based in Austin, previously held jobs under former Gov. Rick Perry and state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, before becoming a member of the state’s water development board in 2013. He was later tapped by Abbott in 2015 to chair the entity.

Bruun’s resignation from the board comes hours after the U.S House Ethics Committee voted to establish an investigative subcommittee into Farenthold over sexual harassment allegations made against him by a former staffer. Reports surfaced last week that Farenthold, who has represented Texas’ 27th Congressional District since 2011, settled that same claim in 2015 with $ 84,000 in taxpayer funds. The congressman, who has already filed for re-election, has since pledged to repay the settlement.

For months, Bruun has received encouragement from within the congressional district to challenge Farenthold, and his expected entrance into the race comes days before the 2018 filing deadline. Michael Cloud, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee and former chairman of the Victoria County GOP, launched a bid in October for the seat. Three lesser-known Republicans, Christopher Mapp, Jerry Hall and Eddie Gassman, have also lined up for potential campaigns.

On the Democratic side, at least two Democrats have so far filed to run for the seat.

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