Special runoff election to fill vacant San Antonio-area House seat set for Nov. 2

The Texas Capitol on April 12, 2021.

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Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Nov. 2 will be the date of the special election runoff to replace former state Rep. Leo Pacheco, D-San Antonio, a seat that Republicans are pushing to flip.

Early voting begins in a week.

The runoff for the Democratic-leaning seat in House District 118 features Democrat Frank Ramirez and Republican John Lujan. Ramirez is a former staffer for the San Antonio City Council, while Lujan briefly held House the seat in 2016.

Lujan finished first in the initial special election late last month, getting 42% of the vote to 20% for Ramirez. There were two other Democrats on the ballot and one other Republican.

Republicans have latched on to the race as an early test of their drive to make new inroads in South Texas after President Joe Biden underperformed there last year. Meanwhile, Democrats are working to show they will not be upset like they have been in past special elections in the San Antonio area.

Nov. 2 is also the date of the statewide constitutional amendment election.

Over the weekend, Democrats cried foul after seeing Lujan campaign literature that told voters the runoff was Nov. 2, even though Abbott, who has endorsed Lujan, had not publicly revealed the date yet. In a statement, Ramirez called on Lujan to "answer to San Antonians immediately about why his campaign appears to be conspiring with the governor to cheat HD118 voters out of their right to have a fair say in who represents our community."

Under the election code, Nov. 2 was one of four possible runoff dates that Abbott could have chosen based on the timing of the canvassing of the special election, which was Thursday, and his announcement of the runoff Monday. The other dates were all earlier — Oct. 23, Oct. 26 or Oct. 30. Nov. 2 already had a scheduled election where voters will be asked to vote on constitutional amendments.