The special election today to find a successor to convicted felon Carlos Uresti in the Texas Senate could be a strong indicator of the fate of Republican and Democrat candidates in the key November elections for state offices, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Retired Game Warden Pete Flores, the Republican, will face attorney and former Congressman Pete Gallego, the Democrat in the District 19 State Senate runoff election. Flores finished first, and Gallego second, in the general election in July.
The District 19 seat has never gone Republican, and Texas Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak, who is a consultant to the Flores campaign, says this would be a good opportunity to flip a traditionally blue seat.
"Obviously, if you have a district that has been basically 10 or 15 points to the advantage of Democrats that flips, that would be an interesting point on the other side of the Democratic argument," he said.
Republicans say Flores is a strong candidate, a political outsider, from law enforcement, and a lifelong leader in the sprawling district, which stretches from south San Antonio to the Big Bend.
While Mackowiak says his primary job today is to help Flores get elected, the long term benefits of a Republican upset victory today on the November election, where Democrats are predicting a 'blue wave' that they say could even swamp Sen. Ted Cruz.
"I think this would be a counter argument to the blue wave, that the Democrats have been predicting," he said.
Democrats point out that District 19 is historically majority Democrat, and all of the Democrats in the general election tallied a significantly higher vote than Flores, even though Flores finished with the most votes.
At a time when questions are being asked about the suitability of politicians from the highest levels, having a straight-arrow retired law enforcement officer without any political baggage is a strong point, especially in a campaign to replace a Democrat who resigned in disgrace after being sentenced to 12 years in prison for ripping off investors in a fracking sand company, and who faces an additional corruption-related federal trial next month.
"It has become clear that this district has not been represented by its former elected member of the State Senate," he said.