Last Thursday, a jury convicted Uresti, who represents Senate District 19, on 11 felony counts, including fraud and money laundering, for his work with a defunct frac-sand company. In addition, he has a separate public-corruption case hanging over him.
Uresti has been stripped of his Senate committee assignments and ostracized by his fellow Senate Democrats. He’s stranded on an island, both legally and politically.
Uresti is evaluating his options at the moment, but it seems all but inevitable that he will step down from the Senate this year.
Even though he is legally entitled to keep his seat while he navigates his way through the appeals process, no constituent deserves to be represented by a lawmaker who is behind bars (as Uresti is likely to be after his scheduled sentencing in June).
In the coming months, he will surely feel pressure from Democratic Party leadership, who don’t want to see a potential blue-wave election hampered by the stench of corruption.
State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, has been open about his ambitions for the seat. In a sense, Gutierrez has been campaigning for it since federal agents raided Uresti’s law office a year ago.
Former Congressman Pete Gallego also has privately indicated to friends that he wants the seat, according to multiple sources. He also has been turning up over the past few days at San Antonio political events.
Political buzz in Senate District 19 also has surrounded City Councilman Rey Saldaña — who will be term-limited out of the council next year — and state Rep. Phil Cortez.
See here for the background. I sure hope he’ll conclude that he needs to step down, and the sooner the better. We need to get his successor into office, and doing so in time for the next session in January would be nice. I don’t have any particular preference for any of the potential candidates named in this story, but given the other issues surrounding Uresti, maybe – hear me out now – we could find a lady candidate to rally around. Just a thought.