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Republican Pete Flores Takes Special Election for Senate District 19

Republican Pete Flores won the Texas Senate District 19 seat, previously help by Carlos Uresti. From left, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Flores and State Sen. Donna Campbell. (Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio)

In the special election for Senate District 19, Rep. Pete Flores edged out his Democratic opponent Pete Gallego. This marks the first time the reliably blue district has been held by Republican in decades.

With all 339 precincts reporting Tuesday night, Floresreceived almost 53 percent of the vote, sealing his victory in the special election to replace former State Sen. Carlos Uresti.

Gallego received roughly 47 percent.

The special election was called after Uresti vacated his seat. The San Antonio lawmaker was found guilty earlier this year of 11 felonies and now faces 12 years in prison for his involvement in a Ponzi scheme.

Flores, a retired game warden, will hold Uresti's seat until 2021. He previously faced Uresti in the 2016 election but lost. He told Texas Public Radio the victory is result of meeting directly with constituents.

“Face time makes miracles," said Flores at his San Antonio election party. "We showed up, we had a ground game. I showed up in every one of these counties and most of these neighborhoods and I’ve done it for three years. So this is not just the last 30 days, this is the culmination of three years of work.”

GOP leaders in the state rallied around Flores in an effort to flip the largely Hispanic, Democrat-leaning district, which is one of the largest in the state–spanning 17 counties, including 400 miles of the Texas-Mexico border.

"It serves as proof that the 'blue wave' the Democrats have been touting can be stopped dead in its tracks when Republicans turnout," said Texas GOP chairman James Dickey.

Indications that Flores might win go back to the initial special election in July, when the San Antonio native came out on top in a crowded field of eight candidates.  At that time, Flores received 34 percent of the vote. Gallego finished with 29 percent.

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.