Republican Pete Flores defeated former Rep. and U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine), 53%-47%, flipping the seat and winning the unexpired term of former Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio). Flores, who finished first out of an 8-way July 31 special election, ran up large margins in Medina and Atascosa Cos. and held Gallego to considerably smaller margins in Bexar, Brewster, Maverick and Val Verde Cos.
He becomes the first Hispanic/Latino Republican ever elected to the Senate, and it appears he will be the first Republican to represent District 23, however it has been drawn, since Reconstruction. His win gives the Republicans a 21-10 advantage that will become 21-9 once Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) resigns to take a seat in Congress. If Democrats manage to flip a Republican-held seat – they’re targeting three – in November, the achievement would merely return the Senate’s balance of power to its 2017 level.
Flores won 10 of the district’s 17 counties, receiving 73% of the vote and flipping one of them (Terrell Co.) from the special election. Turnout in those 10 counties was 13.8%. Gallego won the other seven counties, taking 56% of the vote. Turnout in counties won by Gallego was 7.7%.
Gallego won Bexar Co. by 1,700 votes. He needed 2,700 more. Turnout in Bexar Co. was 7.1%, third lowest of any county in the district, eclipsing only Zavala (7.1%) and Maverick (6.0%) Cos., which Gallego also won. Gallego received 11,915 votes in Bexar Co., well short of the 20,489 who voted in the 2018 Democratic primary in precincts located within SD19. Had 2,700 more Democratic primary voters cast ballots for Gallego in this runoff, then Bexar Co. turnout of 8.0% could have changed the outcome of this race.
Flores will face re-election in 2020, when he will potentially face Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio), who did not endorse Gallego for the runoff.
We will take a closer look at this runoff, including a deep dive into our own model we used to predict this outcome, in the coming weeks.
©2018 Texas Election Source