CORRECTS DATE Republican Pete Flores, second from left, talks to supporters as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, and Republican State Chairman James Dickey, second from right, high-five after Flores defeated Democrat Pete Gallego in a runoff election, capturing a reliably blue state Senate seat, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, in San Antonio. Flores will replace Sen. Carlos Uresti, who stepped down in June after being sentenced to 12 years in prison on federal fraud charges. State Sen. Donna Campbell is at right. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
I’m told that we’re supposed to be super concerned about the special elections held this summer. Allegedly, they are some sort of proxy of intensity and intensity, we are told, is the big Democrat advantage. A friend of mine is spending a lot of his work hours looking at election results, cutting off the heads of roosters and sprinkling their blood about, and disemboweling goats to read their entrails and he’s convinced that…well, who cares.
Yesterday, a special election was held in Texas state senate district 19. District 19 has been held, uninterrupted, by a Democrat for 139 years.
The race was brought on by the thirty (almost) year incumbent, Carlos Uresti, being convicted of eleven felonies. The matchup was interesting. On the Democrat side was former three-term US Representative Peter Gallego who, after his defeat by Will Hurd, moved down the socio-economic scale in order to stay in politics. His GOP opponent was retired game warden Pete Flores.
A retired game warden, Flores defeated former state and U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego for the Senate District 19 seat after receiving backing from some of the state’s most prominent politicians, including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and U.S. Sens John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.
“We conservatives are conservative in the way we make approaches. The gunfight’s not over until the last shot’s fired,” Flores told the Express-News after Gallego conceded in a phone call just before 9 p.m. “The last shot’s been fired.”
According the Secretary of State’s website, Flores won with 53 percent of the vote to Gallego’s 47 percent with 44,487 ballots cast.
And the race has an impact:
“It will provide a completely unexpected gift for Republicans for the next legislative session,” said Mark Jones, a professor of political science at Rice University.
Jones said Flores’ victory all but assured a Republican supermajority next year, which would allow Senate Republicans to bring bills to the floor without any Democratic support.
Is this some kind of sea change? I doubt it. In fact, the GOP upset here looks a lot like Democrat upsets. You have an incumbent who is being replaced, sometimes for misconduct. You have a lazy party organization that is used to winning. You have voters who are not paying attention and are used to a certain party winning all the time. And you have a hungry opposition.
I, fortunately, don’t make a living by making political predictions but I think that polls that show Beto Rodriguez, I mean, O’Rourke within 5 of Ted Cruz are delusional. I have deep doubts that, given the overall economic climate, that a wave election is going to happen. I really don’t believe that low turnout special elections tell you much more than who won that particular election.
Having said that, a GOP supermajority the Texas Senate will be a welcome change and guaranteed to make more than a few heads explode. And that is always fun to watch.