The dreams of liberals and national pundits were dashed Tuesday night when Republican Pete Flores’ grassroots campaign was victorious against former Democrat congressman Pete Gallego in the special election for State Senate District 19.
Stretching between San Antonio and Alpine, SD 19 has long been considered a reliable Democrat seat. But that all changed on Tuesday when Flores upset the former congressman, winning by a six point margin.
A retired game warden, Flores placed first in the initial round to succeed disgraced State Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio), who was forced to resign from office after being convicted of several federal crimes and sentenced to prison.
Shortly after Uresti’s resignation, Gov. Abbott called a special election to fill the seat for the remainder of Uresti’s term, which will last until 2021. Flores earned the first place spot in the initial field of eight Republican and Democrat candidates, including current State Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D–San Antonio).
After the initial special election narrowed the field to a “battle of the Petes” between Flores and Gallego, conservatives rallied around Flores’ grassroots campaign to take the seat from the Democrats.
Campaign finance reports showed Empower Texans PAC and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick among the top the donors to Flores’ campaign.
Between the special election in July and the runoff election Flores ran a serious ground game, seeking to knock on as many doors of real voters as possible and put in the work necessary to claim the seat for Republicans.
Flores has said he owes his victory to “the power of the grassroots.” When Republicans want to make serious gains, they must put in serious work. For Flores, that work has paid off.
The win by Republicans further bolsters their margins in the already conservative Texas Senate headed into the upcoming 2019 legislative session. Republicans now hold 21 of the chamber’s 31 seats.
If Republicans statewide follow the example of Flores, Texas will not only defy expectations from the liberal media of a “blue wave,” but instead can realize the possibility of what President Donald Trump has called “a giant red wave.”