Tuesday’s special elections for vacated state Senate and House seats are headed for runoffs, which means the winning candidates will not take office until after the Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 13. With all 322 Senate precincts and 96 House precincts reporting, both races were dominated by a single candidate who fell short of a majority and first round victory.
Voter turnout as the holiday season came to a close was dismal in the special elections for the Texas Senate District 26 and Texas House District 123 races.
Only 8,679 early votes were cast in the days between Christmas and New Year’s, about 2% of the estimated 400,000-plus registered voters, and only 11,386 votes on Election Tuesday for a total of 20,065 or 4%.
Senate District 26
State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-Dist. 116) finished with 43.28% of the vote versus 25.37% for fellow Texas House member Rep. José Menéndez (D-Dist. 124). Republican challenger Alma Perez Jackson trailed with 20.46%. Two other candidates accounted for the other 11%.
Candidates were seeking to replace Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D) who announced she would step down to run for mayor of San Antonio in the May city elections.
House District 123
Former District 1 City Councilmember Diego Bernal finished with 47.46% of the early vote, more than 26 percentage points ahead of Republican challenger Nunzio Previtera, who stood at 21.28%, and nearly 30 percentage points ahead of the 17.69% for fellow Democrat Melissa Aguillon.
Three other candidates accounted for another 14%, with former City Council member Walter Martinez, who has been out of elected office for a decade, winning only 11%.
Candidates in the race were seeking to replace Rep. Mike Villarreal (D) who became the first announced candidate in the San Antonio mayor’s race six months ago.
The latest unofficial results can be followed at the Bexar County Election’s website.
*Featured/top image(s): Diego Bernal (left photo) and Trey Martinez Fischer (right photo) at their respective election watch parties with their families. Photos by Al Rendon.