With the posthumous victory by Sen. Mario Gallegos, there is still one unsettled matter for 2012 in Texas.
Mario Gallegos, one of the Texas Senate’s most reliable liberals until his death last month, scored a final win Tuesday, easily defeating his Republican challenger after his name remained on the ballot.
Beleaguered Texas Democrats also withstood a spirited, well-funded challenge to Sen. Wendy Davis in the Fort Worth area. Nevertheless, Republicans will retain control of the Senate with a 19-12 advantage when it convenes in January.
The GOP targeted the Davis seat in an attempt to pull within a single vote of an unbreakable two-thirds majority. The Senate operates under a rule that requires the agreement of at least 21 senators for any bill to be brought up for debate during a regular session.
Gallegos, the first Hispanic elected to the state Senate from Harris County, died last month from complications of liver disease. Under Texas law, his name remained on the ballot because he died less than 74 days before the election.
Voters rallied around his candidacy, handing the longtime lawmaker a victory over Republican R.W. Bray in the heavily Democratic District 6, which covers east Harris County. The win by a dead incumbent was not unprecedented – in 2006, state Rep. Glenda Dawson, R-Pearland, was re-elected two months after dying from a brief illness.
Cynthia Gallegos, his youngest sister, said she had worked at polls all day and repeatedly answered the big question from people: Why vote for the late senator?
“Every person who came up to me was like, ‘Didn’t he die?’ ” she said. “I would bite my lip and explain the process. We want to keep the district Democratic.”
With the posthumous win by Gallegos, Gov. Rick Perry will declare the seat vacant and call for a special election to be held within 45 days, on a Tuesday or Saturday.
Possible Democratic candidates include state Rep. Carol Alvarado and former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia. At a victory party for Gallegos on Tuesday, Alvarado said she would wait a few days to discuss her plans.
“Tonight is about Mario, to savor his victory,” she said of the former firefighter who served 22 years in the state Legislature.
The win by Sen. Davis removes any incentive Rick Perry may have had to drag his feet on calling a special election to fill the vacancy in SD06. Which doesn’t mean he’ll snap to it, just that the practical effect in the Senate is minimized. If Rep. Alvarado runs and wins, there would then need to be another special election in HD145. I was going to say we’re getting way ahead of ourselves, but then this happened.
The morning after his posthumous victory party, the late state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, got his dying wish when his choice to succeed him announced her intention to seek the seat he held since 1994.
State Rep. Carol Alvarado, who was re-elected to her House seat without opposition Tuesday, announced her candidacy for the Senate seat in an email Wednesday.
Alvarado is expected to formally announce her candidacy at an event with members of Gallegos’ family on Monday.
Here’s the email. All I know is that I like both Rep. Alvarado and Sylvia Garcia, and I’m glad I was redistricted out of SD06 so I don’t have to choose between them. In the meantime, I salute Sen. Gallegos and his family for his life and his service, and once Perry gives the go-ahead I look forward to a worthy successor being elected to fill his seat in Austin.