The special election last Tuesday, Feb. 12, was the latest in a troubling track record in special elections for San Antonio Democrats. Republican Fred Rangel took 38% of the total vote beating out four Democrats in a race for Texas House District 125. Rangel will now face Democrat Ray Lopez, a former SA city councilman, in a runoff in the heavy Hispanic district.
The Texas Democratic Party still feels confident it will keep the seat after the runoff because over 60 percent of the total vote on Tuesday night went to the Democratic candidates. However, the Republicans’ strong performance was the latest in a trend that has San Antonio Democrats worried, particularly in Hispanic neighborhoods.
Rangel was publicly endorsed by two top Texas Republicans, Gov. Greg Abbott and then U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. The high-level GOP support was similar to Pete Flores, the Pleasanton Republican who won the state Senate seat last year in the runoff of a special election.
Many feel that state GOP support for south Texas candidates was lacking in the past because former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus would not allow it. Straus was elected Speaker with 100% support from Democrats in the state House, and therefore he would not oppose south Texas Democrats or support their Republican challengers.
But it is a new day with Straus gone, and while the good news is that Rangel won, the bad news is that voter turnout continues to be very low. Overall, there were only 6,122 votes cast during early voting and on Election Day, for a 5.4 percent turnout.
Voter turnout for runoffs is usually even worst, and the challenge for Rangel will be to get Republicans and conservatives to the polls on election day. Lopez’ problem will be to consolidate the Democrats’ support behind him, as well as get them to the polls.
However, citizens and voters in House D-125 should remember how Lopez behaved like a local dictator when he was on the SA city council in the renaming of Old Highway 90. As his final act on the city council, Lopez pushed an ordinance through city council placing a five-year moratorium to prohibit the citizens from petitioning to restore the name of Old Highway 90.
Lopez’ ordinance was an extreme overreached of city government power by abridging the citizens’ right to petition their government for redress of grievances as per the Bill of Rights. If Lopez doesn’t respect the Bill of Rights at the city level, what will he do at the state level?
Republican and conservative voters in Texas House Dist. 125 need to go to the polls and defend their freedom and liberty from local and state tyrant.