Democrat José Menéndez officially became San Antonio's new state senator on Wednesday after a swearing-in ceremony conducted by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia. Menéndez delivered a brief speech to his new colleagues sharing his personal story as the son of Mexican immigrants and promoting bipartisanship.
Hours later, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott set Tuesday, March 31 as the date for an emergency special election to fill the now-vacant District 124 House seat. Menéndez took his place in the Texas Senate as the new District 26 Senator, replacing Leticia Van de Putte who is running for mayor in the May 9 City Election.
Menéndez defeated fellow House Democrat Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer in a Feb. 17 runoff election after a tense campaign that saw the two former friends exchange verbal volleys, with both sides benefitting from hundreds of thousands of dollars of special interest money invested in negative advertising. Martinez Fischer promised to challenge the Senate's Republican House majority and its leader, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, while Menéndez promised to work across party lines to try to be more effective. Many political observers believe a Republican turnout in the runoff reversed Martinez Fischer's big first round lead and delivered Menéndez a stunning 20-point victory.
Early voting in the House race will be held March 23-27. A followup Rivard Report story will list the candidates seeking the office. Candidates from all parties can run in the open election. House District 124 extends from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to Leon Valley, Helotes and northwest San Antonio. Click here to view a district map.
*Featured/top image: State Rep. José Menéndez (Dist. 26) and wife Cehlia Newman-Menéndez issue a victory speech to supporters Tuesday night. Photo by Edmond Ortiz.