Republican Pete Flores, Democrat Pete Gallego set for runoff for state Senate District 19 seat

By Patrick Svitek

Republican Pete Flores and Democrat Pete Gallego are headed to a runoff in the special election to replace convicted former state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Flores was leading Gallego by 3 percentage points, 33 percent to 30 percent, according to unofficial returns. At 25 percent, state Rep. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio was coming in third in the eight-way race. The five other candidates were in single digits, including Uresti's brother, outgoing state Rep. Tomas Uresti of San Antonio.

The first-place finish by Flores, who unsuccessfully challenged Carlos Uresti in 2016, is a boon to Republicans in the Democratic-leaning district. In the home stretch of the race, he benefited from a raft of endorsements from Texas' top elected officials including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

The special election was triggered in June after Carlos Uresti was found guilty of 11 felonies, including securities fraud and money laundering, tied to his work with a now-defunct oilfield services company. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison days after he stepped down.

Much of the action in the race centered on Gutierrez and Gallego, a former congressman and longtime state House member from West Texas. Gutierrez went after Gallego over questions about whether he lives in the district, among other things, while Gallego highlighted Gutierrez's history of tax problems.

SD-19 encompasses a 17-county area that starts on San Antonio's East Side and sprawls hundreds of miles west.

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