January 11, 2007
Mario Gallegos

At the end of this story about Sen. Dan Patrick's solo performance is a bit about Sen. Mario Gallegos, who was named President Pro Tem of the Senate.

Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, lauded the ailing Gallegos for undergoing rehabilitation for alcoholism last spring.

Whitmire told senators he's confident that his "best friend" in the Senate has stopped drinking.

"I've been here long enough to see the human side of state representatives and state senators," Whitmire said. "We're not perfect. Mario's got some issues, but he's the first senator I've been familiar with that recognized his problem, sought help, went public and has been successful with his sobriety."

Whitmire then issued a warning at-large to anyone thinking of challenging Gallegos for his Senate seat: "You mess with Mario Gallegos while he's in recovery, while he's doing well and representing his district, you mess with Mario, and you're messing with me and the rest of this Senate."

Several Houston-area elected officials have been mentioned as possible contenders for Gallegos' seat, among them Houston City Councilwoman Carol Alvarado and state Reps. Jessica Farrar and Rick Noriega. They have all said they are not interested in running for the seat if Gallegos seeks re-election.

He is up for re-election in 2008.

He was most recently re-elected in 2004, overcoming a write-in candidacy by a woman he acknowledged was a former mistress.

Gallegos acknowledged a 17-year affair with ex-stripper Susan Delgado after she filed a lawsuit in which she alleged he had stolen from her and been abusive. The senator, who is married and has children, denied the charges but publicly apologized for what he called a "shameful mistake."

"Overcoming a write-in candidacy" by Susan Delgado is an interesting way of putting it, since she got all of 160 votes, or 0.19%. There was a Libertarian on the ballot, who got 6614 votes, for 8.05%. The real campaign was in the primary, where Gallegos prevailed over Yolanda Navarro Flores with 54% of the vote.

Greg wonders if all this is a sign of Gallegos taking a last bow, or if it's the first step of his political rehab. Gallegos is my State Senator, so I'm certainly rooting for him to do well (or to make a graceful exit if that's what he has in mind). I've never had any quarrel with how Gallegos votes, but his effectiveness is a valid question. It's embarrassing to see him on the Texas Monthly Ten Worst list for an inability to get stuff done. I want him to succeed, but if he doesn't I don't see how Sen. Whitmire is doing anyone any favors with his rhetoric. I wish Sen. Gallegos the very best with his continued recovery, but let's not lose sight of constituents. We deserve the best, too.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 11, 2007 to That's our Lege