Senator-elect Pete Flores may have had only three hours sleep Wednesday, but he was energized and focused after Tuesday night’s win over Democrat Pete Gallego in the District 19 special election.
“The top priority will be property tax reform.,” the Republican told The Pioneer Wednesday. “That’s something that we heard throughout the district in every county. As expressed by the voters – they’re frustrated. I’m affected, too. I’m a retiree on a fixed income and property taxes keep rising. At this rate, it will be unsustainable.”
Flores bested Gallego 53 percent to 47 percent in the district and won by a 62-38 margin in Pecos County. Given that Gallego represented much of the district previously in the state legislature and in the U.S. Congress – coupled with Flores being the first Republican to hold the seat in 139 year – the win by the retired game warden was a political upset.
The ramifications are huge, with a strong chance Republicans will hold a super-majority in Austin after November.
It will be 10 to 12 days before votes and canvassed and certified by the Secretary of State and signed by Gov. Abbott. Once done, Flores will take the oath of office and begin serving the remainder to the term of Democrat Carlos Uresti, who resigned among felony convictions.
Flores said it was his campaign against Uresti in the 2016 election that set the stage for Tuesday night’s win.
“The story basically begins in 2015,” Flores said. “Of course, we went in knowing the odds were against us. But it was the right thing to do. The Lord works in mysterious ways. We set upon a path and we got 97,600 votes in 2016. That established a good base for us.”
Flores utilized that pass for the July 31 primary special election to fill Uresti’s seat. Flores was the top vote getter among eight candidates with 34 percent.
“We continued our grassroots organization within the counties for two years,” Flores said. “So, what you saw on the 31st (July primary), was basically the grassroots organization. We were outspent $500,000 by (State Rep. Roland) Guiterrez ,for example, compared to $50,000. But we had a million dollars of human capital in the counties. That’s what pulled it off.”
Flores said that network was pivotal ahead of Tuesday’s election as he campaigned in each of the district’s 17 counties.
“As we went in against Gallego for this one, we had a very strong grassroots organization, an excited base and a united Republican Party,” he said. “We had significantly more funding and our ground game was superior.”
Flores said he was humbled and honored by the victory and said he would strive to represent everyone in the district.
“Whether you are in Sanderson or San Antonio, I am going to represent you evenly,” he said.