Republican Sen. Kip Averitt of Waco announed Monday he will resign his Senate seat on March 17, allowing Gov. Rick Perry to call a special election in May to fill the position.

Senate District 22 covers 10 counties, including Somervell, and stretches from Waco to the outskirts of Fort Worth.

Averitt had announced in January that he was dropping out of the race because of health concerns. It was too late to remove his name from the March 2 primary ballot. Despite suspending his campaign, he still beat Darren Yancy, a Burleson insurance and real estate business owner, with 60 percent of the primary vote.

In a prepared statement after the election, Yancy said he believed Averitt was helped by Democrats who crossed party lines to vote for the incumbent in the primary.

Yancy last month appeared at a candidates forum sponsored by the Republican Club of Somervell County. Averitt still won almost 59 percent of the county vote.

"Your vote of confidence last Tuesday, election day, was most gratifying,” Averitt said in a prepared statement. “I am humbled by your support.   

"Now, the time has come for me to step down,” he continued. “My immediate priority now is to see that the voters in central Texas get to pick their next senator.”

"Serving you, our friends, and our neighbors has been my highest honor and greatest privilege,” Averitt added. “I thank you for your continued support of my decision to step away from public office after 17 years of service. I will now work on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and spending time with my children."

No Democrat filed to run against Averitt in the November general election.

The special election will be held on May 8. Averitt's resignation now opens the field to Republicans and Democrats. Among those said to be interested in running is former Sen. David Sibley, a Republican from Waco.

Yancy said on his Facebook site yesterday that his phone and e-mail have been flooded since Averitt announced his resignation.

“This creates a vacancy for the current term only, as Kip has not removed his name from the November ballot,” Yancy wrote. “I have calls into the Secretary of State on clarification on what happens next. I believe it is the governor's call, but I need confirmation. Too many theories floating about.”