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5 takeaways from the Texas runoff election in Bexar County

Here's what you missed Tuesday night

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County voters joined the rest of Texas Tuesday in deciding the final nominees for the general election in November.

With more than a dozen races on GOP and Democratic ballots, we’ve rounded up the biggest takeaways below, in case you missed it. See a full list of all election results here.

Hegar to face U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in November

The highest-profile statewide race on either party’s ballot resulted in a tight race between two very different candidates.

After being within three percentage points of each other most of the evening, Mary “MJ” Hegar, an Air Force veteran who mounted a near-successful bid for Congress in 2018, edged out Dallas state Sen. Royce West by about five percentage points.

West, a Dallas attorney who has been in the state Senate for nearly three decades, performed well in the race’s single debate but was not enough to bat back Hegar, whose military record, outsider shine and fundraising chops made her a tough opponent. She got national attention following a viral congressional ad campaign during the 2018 midterm.

Learn more about Hegar, who now faces the tough task of unseating longtime GOP incumbent John Cornyn in November, in her Q&A with KSAT here.

Too close to call: Race to replace Congressman Will Hurd

Perennially of the most competitive districts in the country, Congressional District 23 lived up to its reputation Tuesday as both Republican candidates ended the night within three votes. As we learned with this exact same district in 2018, it’s better safe than sorry when determining the final outcome of a tight election that spans two time zones.

When Congressman Will Hurd announced his retirement from the seat, Republicans came out of the woodwork to try to replace him. The seat even garnered attention from President Donald Trump, who endorsed Tony Gonzales. Raul Reyes was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

For now, we’ll have to wait and see who will face Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones in November.

RELATED: ‘Outstanding’ voter turnout reported in Bexar County for runoff election

Bexar County Commissioner, Constable shake-up

Precinct 1 Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez lost his seat on Tuesday night after being trounced by about 20 percentage points by challenger Rebeca “Becky” Clay-Flores in the Democratic runoff.

Rodriguez pulled less than 40 percent of the vote, leaving Clay-Flores the November favorite in the Democratic-leaning district. She’ll face Republican Gabriel Lara in the general election.

In Precinct 3, where outgoing Republican Commissioner Kevin Wolff’s retirement left the door open for a new face, Trish DeBerry won the GOP nomination on Tuesday by a near-10-point margin over Tom Rickhoff. DeBerry will likely be the favorite heading into November, where she’ll face Democrat Christine Hortick.

In the Precinct 4 Constable’s race, newcomer Kathryn Brown enjoyed a smooth ride to victory, landing nearly 70 percent of the vote over Mike “Chief” Ramirez. Brown beat out the current Pct. 4 Constable Stan Ramos during the primary and looks to be the favorite over Republican Larry Ricketts in November.

And finally, in the former shadow of controversial ex-Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela, incumbent Precinct 2 Constable Leticia Vasquez comfortably held onto her post by about 15 percentage points over challenger Ino Baldillo. Vasquez replaced Barrientes Vela after the now-indicted ex-official forfeited her seat by violating the state’s resign-to-run law when she prematurely announced her candidacy for Bexar County Sheriff (it ultimately crashed and burned.) Now, Vasquez must fend off Charlie Pena Jr., a GOP challenger, in November in the Democratic-leaning district.

Roland Gutierrez’s gamble pays off

After a mud-slinging race for the Democratic nomination for state Senate District 19, Roland Gutierrez emerged a victor on Tuesday night. His race against Xochil Peña Rodriguez ran late into the night, but ultimately Gutierrez pulled 52 percentage points and won by about 1,600 votes.

To run for the senate seat, Gutierrez vacated his state House District 119 position. State senators represent about five times the number of Texans as House Reps., and with that comes more political influence. Still, Gutierrez has to beat out incumbent Republican Pete Flores, who shocked political observers in Texas with a 2018 special election victory in this seat that’s been held by Democrats for decades. (That special election was called after ex-state Sen. Carlos Uresti resigned following his fraud conviction.)

In the race for his now-vacated state House District 119 seat, Elizabeth “Liz” Campos won by about 13 percentage points over Jennifer Ramos. Campos will face off against George B. Garza in the Democratic-leaning district in the general election.

Bad night for conspiracy theorists

Two candidates who peddled conspiracy theories and otherwise false information this year were passed over by Republican voters on Tuesday.

Voters gave Bexar County GOP Chair Cynthia Brehm an emphatic boot on Tuesday night, weeks after she refused calls to resign from top Texas Republicans, including U.S. Senator John Cornyn and Gov. Greg Abbott. The officials urged Brehm, who pulled about a third of the runoff vote, to step down following a post shared by Brehm on Facebook that suggested that the death of George Floyd was staged for political reasons.

Her opponent and new Bexar County GOP Chair John Austin, a real-estate appraiser, said Brehm’s post showed a “basic disregard of facts” and that her “actions are very hurtful and denigrates the memory of Floyd and amplifies the pain and suffering that the country is going through.” (Democratic Bexar County Chair Monica Alcántara narrowly held onto her seat.)

Republican Robert Morrow, who dons a jester hat in his official candidate photo, was decidedly defeated by Lani Popp, a speech pathologist from Northside ISD, for the nomination for State Board of Education, District 5. Morrow, a Roger Stone ally who uses vulgar and sexist language to describe women and has labeled the current and former presidents pedophiles, was chosen by only 1 out of 5 voters.


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