A strong yet unsuccessful showing in 2016 against incumbent Carlos Uresti was enough to convince Pete Flores to take another shot at Uresti’s State Senate seat, this time in a special election to complete the former senator’s term.
With early voting beginning Monday for the Sept. 18 runoff, Flores faces Democrat and former Congressman Pete Gallego in Democratic-leaning District 19, which covers all or parts of 17 counties from Bexar to the Mexican border and the Big Bend country. But Flores was the top vote-getter in July’s first round of voting and is banking on his grassroots campaign to send him to Austin.
“Special elections are a different animal,” Flores said. “All assumptions get thrown out the window.”
When Flores challenged Uresti in 2016, he got 40 percent of the vote. “That’s a pretty good chunk of votes in Southwest Texas,” Flores said.
Ahead of the runoff, Gallego spoke with the Rivard Report at his Southside campaign office before block-walking with more than 20 volunteers and supporters, including Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar and County Democratic Chair Monica Alcantara.
“Opportunity means jobs, the economy, education,” he said. “It means making sure everyone has the opportunity to live out what I call the American dream.
“I also want to make sure we live up to promises made to the people to whom we owe a great deal of obligation – our seniors who built our country and made it what it is, and veterans who’ve done the same.”
Gallego is confident that Democrats will get out and vote on Sept. 18. He described District 19 as a “60/40 district,” with Democratic voters making up the majority.
“In an emergency special election, it may be a little tighter, but if at the end of the day we do what we need to do, we’ll win,” he said.
Flores did indeed get 40% in 2016 against the disgraced Carlos Uresti, though that was actually a bit below what other Republicans did in the district. He also got 34.35% in the July election, and while that was enough to lead the field, it was still a notch down from his 2016 performance. The four Dems in the race combined for 59.6%, to the three Republicans’ 39.4%, or right about where Gallego estimated the partisan ratio is. I’d call that a bit on the high end, as Dems won by about ten points pretty consistently in both 2012 and 2016. As such, the July performance for Dems was above the baseline by several points, more or less in line with other elections over the past year and a half. That said, special elections and runoffs are their own thing, and nothing should be taken for granted. Gallego got the Express News endorsement, and as far as I can tell is doing the kind of campaigning one needs to do in this kind of race. If you live in the district or know someone who does, you have till Friday to vote early, and Tuesday the 18th to vote at a precinct location. Don’t miss out.