Our exploration of straight-ticket voting trends in competitive or potentially competitive districts turns to Republican-leaning HD43, where Rep. J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville), who was first elected as a Democrat, is seeking his fourth term.

HD43 is today comprised of Bee, Jim Wells, Kleberg and San Patricio Cos., which wrap around Nueces Co. on the South Texas coast. Three of them have reliably voted for Republicans at the top of the ballot since at least 2000, and Republicans have become increasingly competitive at the local level in all four counties.

Lozano defeated incumbent Rep. Tara Rios Ybarra (D-South Padre Island) in the 2010 Democratic primary and easily dispatched a minor party candidate in the general election.

Rep. J.M. Lozano

Rep. J.M.

Marisa Yvette Garcia-Utley

Marisa Yvette Garcia-Utley

Redistricting dramatically changed the landscape of HD43, trading Democratic strongholds like Brooks, Jim Hogg and Willacy Cos. for more Republican-friendly Bee and San Patricio Cos.

Following the 2011 session, Lozano announced he would seek re-election as a Republican, and he formally changed parties in May 2012. He narrowly defeated former Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles (D-Alice) by 3 points in the general election. Lozano won San Patricio Co. by more than 3,200 votes and narrowly carried Kleberg Co., his home county, by 217 votes. He lost Bee Co. by 200 votes and Jim Wells Co., home to Gonzalez Toureilles, by nearly 1,800 votes.

In 2014, he won all four counties, faring better than gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott in each one.

Lozano faces Alice fitness studio owner and former Jim Wells Co. Democratic Chair Marisa Yvette Garcia-Utley. No minor party candidates are in the race. She stepped down as party chair to run for HD43 and was succeeded by Marc Toureilles, husband of Lozano’s 2012 opponent. Garcia-Utley is engaged to Jim Wells Co. Judge Pete Trevino Jr.

Estimates of the number of straight-ticket and full-ballot votes cast in the 2004 presidential election and the actual number of those votes in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections in the counties currently comprising HD43 are shown below.

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