AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The special election to fill the vacancy in Texas Senate District 19 could have long-lasting implications in the Lone Star State.
Retired Game Warden Peter Flores faces former Congressman Pete Gallego in the quest to fill the seat left open by Carlos Uresti, who resigned this year after 11 federal felony convictions.
The district spans 17 counties from San Antonio, to just shy of El Paso.
A three-fifths majority is needed to pass legislation out of the chamber. Should Flores win, and Republicans hold their current seats in November, the GOP would have a supermajority in Texas, meaning they could pass bills without Democratic support.
Should Gallego win, Republicans would be forced to look across the aisle for support on bills.
“There is no question that this is a critical race,” Republican strategist and Flores campaign consultant Matt Mackowiack said. He is also the Chair of the Travis County Republican Party. “When you only have 31 state senate districts, every single one of them is an important district.”
Despite the democratic history of the district, party leaders are not acting complacent.
“We are not taking anything for granted and it’s a huge field effort on the ground that we are hoping to finish strong Election Day,” Texas Democratic Party communications director Tariq Thowfeek said.
Flores has picked up endorsements and support from Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and others.
Discontent from Uresti’s sour exit could lead to the left-leaning district flipping from blue to red. Texas Republican Party Chair James Dickey said that would be a testament to a unified Republican Party in the state.
“Very big implications. It has not been in modern memory that a Republican has won this seat,”: Dickey said. “Unfortunately, it has also not been in modern memory when the Democrats have fielded somebody who wasn’t breaking the law or otherwise doing underhanded things in an attempt to win the seat.”
Thowfeek said the goal for the next six weeks, regardless of the outcome on Tuesday, is “pedal to the metal.”
“We are beefing up all of our shops here in the departments, and running headstrong until November,” he said.
Mackowiack said the ramifications of Tuesday’s race are “considerable.”
“They are not just for this district they are not just for these counties, this is a race of state wide significance,” he said.
Polls close at 7:00 p.m. local time. Election returns can be found at the Texas Secretary of State’s website.