SD19: Gov. Greg Abbott ordered an emergency special election (PDF) be held July 31 to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio). Candidates must file with the Secretary of State by Monday, June 25. Early voting will begin July 16 and run through July 27.
Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) and former Rep. and U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) have previously announced plans to seek the seat. San Antonio attorney and longtime Democratic activist Charlie Urbina Jones recently reactivated his campaign committee for the race. Retired game warden and 2016 Republican nominee Peter Flores also has an active campaign account and social media page for a potential run for the seat. Flores received 40% of the vote against Uresti in the last general election.
Uresti resigned earlier this week, four months after his conviction on 11 criminal fraud counts. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday, and he faces another criminal trial on unrelated charges in October. Uresti has maintained his innocence throughout the legal process and has indicated he would appeal the verdict. Shortly after the verdict was announced, the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus called on him to step down, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) stripped him of his committee assignments. Uresti surrendered his law license in April.
Abbott cites this “indictment and ultimate conviction” as a reason to call the emergency election, rather than wait for the November general election. The district has been left “without effective representation in the Texas Senate for over a year” and would remain unrepresented until January 2019 at the earliest, Abbott wrote in his proclamation.
The other legislative vacancy, HD62, did not receive emergency status from Abbott. Former Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) resigned in April, but the special election to fill his unexpired term will not occur until November 6.
History tells us that turnout for the SD19 special election will be lower if it is held on a date other than the general election, and recent history tells us that special election turnout in Bexar Co. in particular is very low when those elections occur on dates other than a general election. Less than 5% of registered voters turned out for the January 2015 special election for SD26, a district located entirely within Bexar Co.
Also instructive is a January 2016 special runoff election for Democrat-held HD118, in which John Lujan temporarily flipped the seat to the Republicans. Lujan defeated Tomás Uresti by 171 votes out of the 3,603 ballots cast, compared to 6,718 who voted in the special election, which coincided with the November 2015 general election. Incidentally, Lujan was the first-place finisher in that special election. Uresti would go on to defeat Lujan, 55%-45%, in the general election, returning the seat to the Democratic column.
The voting history of SD19 suggests that a Democratic candidate will win the seat at the next general election, but the winner of the special election, unlike Lujan, will serve during a regular legislative session before that could happen. If Flores were the only Republican on the ballot, he would have a good shot at making a runoff, and anything can happen in a special runoff election.
GOV: Jolt Texas endorsed challenger Lupe Valdez (D). The group, which describes itself as “a civic engagement organization” aiming to “mobilize Latino millennial voters,” backed Andrew White in the gubernatorial runoff over Valdez, citing her record of working with federal immigration officials while she was Dallas Co. sheriff.
CD31: National pundit Charlie Cook changed the rating of this seat to “likely Republican” from “solid Republican,” citing the fact that U.S. Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) “has never faced a competitive general election since winning his seat in 2002.” He faces Democrat M.J. Hegar, a Round Rock nonprofit executive, and Libertarian Jason Hope. Hegar has raised more than $500K during the election cycle, but she spent at least $375K of it to make and then win the Democratic runoff. Carter received 65% of the vote in the Republican primary against a single opponent he outspent better than 12-to-1 in the weeks leading up to the election.
Meanwhile, the Hegar campaign released a web ad, “Doors,” a biographical piece set to what sounds like an instrumental cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”
The Hegar campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are listed as paying for the ad.
PRES: Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro canceled planned fundraisers in Iowa, an early presidential nomination battleground, to “support the children detained at the border.”
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