September 20, 2018 500 AM
FAR WEST TEXAS – Republican Pete Flores defeated Democrat Pete Gallego in the special election runoff for Senate District 19 on Tuesday, and is seen as a major upset in the democratic friendly district that stretches from Far West Texas to San Antonio to the Texas Lower Valley.
With all 353 precincts reporting, Flores beat Gallego by 6 percentage points in the race to replace convicted former state Sen. Carlos Uresti. Flores received 53 percent, 23,576 votes to Gallego’s 47 percent, 20,911 votes. The result of this race can be interpreted as a repudiation of career politicians- a term that may correctly describe Gallego.
Throughout the campaign Gallego, a one-term area congressmen who also served two decades in the Texas House of Representatives, had to weave his way through the current political climate that no longer favors politicians who position themselves as a “safe and reliable choice.” Flores was able to capture this animosity towards the political establishment and strategically positioned himself as an outsider. By doing this, and with the assistance of Gov. Abbott who scheduled the runoff two months before the midterms, helped push Flores to the top.
By comparison, the total votes cast in the state senate race on November 8, 2016 totaled 239,787, resulting in a 15 point Uresti win. This past runoff saw a total of 44,487 votes cast, nearly double the amount of votes during the July 31 special election where Flores and Gallego advanced.
Counties that are normally considered democratic leaning, such as Bexar and Val Verde went for Gallego, but not convincingly. Flores managed to hold his own in these counties and widened his lead in Medina, Uvalde, and Atascosa counties. In nearly every county, Flores was able to double the amount of votes he received from the last election, and in some cases tripled the votes. Although Gallego managed to double and triple the votes in particular counties, he was stagnant in others.
In Brewster County, where Gallego claims residency, he managed to defeat Flores, but his votes only increased by 250 from the July election, whereas Flores increased his votes by nearly 400. Gallego earned 1,197 votes in his home county, while Flores received 804 votes.
“Our campaign, with all of our supporters on the ground, made more than 100,000 calls, knocked on more than 20,000 doors and raised more than $300,000 in six weeks. After earning more than 9,000 votes on July 31, we earned more than 23,000 tonight. Pete Flores visited all 17 counties in the past six weeks and put 7,000 miles on his truck. We worked for this. We earned this. This is a shared victory, with extraordinary help from so many people. This is a tremendous victory and we will enjoy it. The work begins tomorrow, “said Flores campaign consultant Matt Mackowiak in a press release.
During the campaign Gallego was questioned on his residency, his lack of support for LGBTQ rights, despite the Stonewall democrats lending their endorsement, and his milquetoast stance on abortion, these inconsistencies with the supposed priorities of the Democratic Party did not inspire voters to come out this week.
At the time of publication, Gallego could not be reached for comment.
Flores’ victory puts the state senate seat in Republican control, the first time in more than a century.
If the Democrats hope to reclaim legislative seats then they must have a concise message that promotes a vision of prosperity, if not they will continue to lose seats in districts that have been held by Democrats for over a century.