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Author: oywkl

District Election Results Final

District Election Results Final

Pete Flores, Texas State Senator, released the following statement on last night’s election results.

“Yesterday’s election results were not what we had hoped for, but this campaign has come to an end.

“I send my heartfelt thanks to the people of the District. I appreciate the opportunity to serve as their State Senator for the 86th Session. I want to thank the Lt. Governor and my colleagues in the Texas Senate for their support as we accomplished a great many things for the people of Texas and this District. And most of all, I thank my family for their support and understanding throughout this time in public office.

“Together we made history, winning this seat in 2018. We again achieved historic and unprecedented results but fell short of reelection. Electorally, we made gains in every county, and for that I thank each and every one of you. I am encouraged by the fact that we held Mr. Gutierrez to under 50%.

“The results also show that we flipped Brewster, Frio, Reeves, and Val Verde counties from Blue to Red, and made double-digit gains in Maverick and Zavala. South and west Texas continue to trend Republican.

“This district is diverse and unique. While I have lived much of my life here, I learned each day from the people, and they have made me a better man.

“I will complete my term in January, but my service to the people of south and west Texas will continue,” Flores concluded.

Flores Campaign Statement on the Veritas Video Series

PLEASANTON TX – “Pete Flores has fought the Politiqueras throughout south and west Texas,” said campaign spokesman Allen Blakemore. “He spent nearly 30 years in law enforcement and has always been in the right side of law – he’s a man of unquestioned integrity.

“Politiqueras in south and west Texas area have been a problem throughout the modern political era, and voter fraud is real. These videos highlight a significant problem.

“Project Veritas has highlighted election integrity issues around the nation. While as often as not, their videos are manipulated and often deceptively edited, their tactics are questionable, and their journalistic standards are sloppy at best.

“Raquel Rodriguez makes some bold claims in her Project Veritas screen debut – yet when questioned by San Antonio reporter Yami Virgin of WOAI-TV (NBC), Ms. Rodriguez said, ‘…I made false statements to the operatives…’

“Here are the facts: Ms. Rodriguez solicited Senator Flores support to help sponsor food for a voter registration event in south Bexar County on August 8. She was paid by check and it was reported on the Senator’s campaign finance report. No other funds have been paid to Ms. Rodriguez.

“A member of the Flores campaign staff attending the Bexar County GOP Southside Headquarters Grand Opening on October 10 distributing Flores signs, caps, t-shirts, face masks provided Ms. Rodriguez fewer than 25 masks,” Blakemore concluded.

More information about Pete Flores is available at www.FloresforTexas.com.

Flores opens Fort Stockton office

Sen. Pete Flores held a grand opening for his Fort Stockton district office on Jan. 14. The District 19 covers over 460 miles from Eagle Pass to San Antonio.While the office has been operating for a few months, Flores now has a full-time staff member working to answer constituent questions and be the local presence for the western part of his district. “I felt the office needed to be here,” said Flores. “For me, it’s about representation.” The office will be staffed by Marshal Hoak, who plans to be available weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by phone at (432) 336-8836. The office is at 612 N. Main St. Hoak may also be reached at marshal.hoak@senate.texas.gov.

Senator Pete Flores’ Quiet ‘Regular Guy’ Approach Resonates on District Tour

“I’m just a regular guy meeting with regular people.”

Indeed, at first glance, one might be forgiven for taking Sen. Pete Flores’ (R-Pleasanton) word of his own self-description.

He showed up to the burger stand to meet constituents, wearing what he dubbed “lawman’s” garb — toe to head: boots, jeans, plain blue button-down, red tie, and a crisp cowboy hat. As they say…you can take the warden out of the game, but you can’t take the game out of the warden.

While Sen. Pete Flores looks to be every bit of that genuine “regular guy” he identifies as, his life experience is quite irregular…and rather remarkable.

The now-retired game warden spent his career in Texas’ Parks and Wildlife Department — with eight of those years as colonel (head warden). After such a career, most would likely prefer to enjoy a simple retirement and maybe pick up a hobby like woodworking.

Well, Flores’ hobby — he, more appropriately, dubs it a “calling” — is representing Senate District 19 in the Texas Legislature.

“It was necessary,” Flores told me of his decision to run. With his predecessor — whom Flores ran against in 2016 — being indicted for his role in a Ponzi scheme, the usually safe Democratic seat came up for grabs in a 2018 special election.

His motto, in fewer words, was “If not me, then who?”

In 2018, he won a race few thought he could win. In fact, he is the first Republican to represent SD19 since post-Civil War Reconstruction. Flores came out on top in both the general and the run-off elections.

Since taking office — citing his long history of civil service as decent preparation for what he would face in the legislature — Flores has hit the ground running.

As a freshman, Flores had a significant hand in over 30 bills that reached the governor’s desk.

What he seemed most proud of — which he co-authored — was the property tax bill. Although not going so far as to declare it a “Super Bowl”-type victory, Flores expounded on the need to focus on what he calls the “pillars” of the state government.

“It was a stacked deck,” he said referring to the property tax system in place that SB2 adjusted. Flores added, “We thought the 3.5 percent threshold was fair — allowing our cities and counties some flexibility to be able to continue to function well while also requiring them to live within their means.”

“If the need to raise it above that value is so compelling, ask the boss: we the people,” he stressed.

Another aspect of the property tax debate Flores tried to tackle during the 86th Legislature was the appraisal process. He’d like to see it become more transparent, accountable, and uniform — “rather than having 254 different ways of doing it.”

He then pointed to this as a top priority for the next session.

The current property tax system in Texas traces all the way back to the Carter administration when inflation was running rampant. And until this session, it seemed to be set in stone. But Flores didn’t see it that way: “For me, the only thing set in stone is the Ten Commandments. What the legislature creates, the legislature can also uncreate.”

As for SB2’s “brother from another mother,” HB3, Flores touted the tax relief it provided while also raising teacher’s salaries so they, in his words, “don’t have to work two or three jobs to be a teacher.”

Flores’ mindset in serving his constituents is: “It’s all about being part of, and responsive to, your community.”

As I watched the former game warden make his way around the burger joint — stopping to speak with everyone there — I noticed a quiet determination. A determination to truly reach as many of his constituents as he possibly could.

Sure enough, I’d come to learn that was exactly the case, as he told me another one of his mottos: “Face time makes miracles.”

Which leads to yesterday — another day in his post-session circuit of touring SD19 which stretches from the urban neighborhoods of San Antonio all the way out to the New Mexico border.

The events turned out to be quite civil, similar to some recent town halls but wholly unlike others.

Due to his relentless district outreach events, Flores just eclipsed 185,000 miles on his 2012 F-150. In fact, he has done so many events that he couldn’t come up with a number when I asked for a ballpark figure.

Gathered on the porch of Uvalde’s pizza and brewhouse, Broadway 830, a few dozen constituents listened intently to the senator methodically and rather thoroughly explain what was accomplished in the 86th Legislature and his priorities going forward.

During the question and answer portion, Flores was asked about the possibility of a special session, the Texas Lottery Commission, and red flag laws.

To the first, Flores said, “There’s always a chance.” Specifically, Flores pointed to Governor Abbott’s ultimatum to Austin over its handling of the homelessness situation.

But to the third, Flores received the most pushback at any point during the day. When asked about standing firm against red flag laws, Flores pointed to the need to enforce the laws already on the books. He also added, “Under current Texas law, [there is] nothing to worry about.”

Flores expounded on this to me earlier, saying, “Let’s see what they (the committees appointed by the Governor and Lt. Governor) come back with, but let’s not start to talk about depriving lawful citizens of their property before we have that thorough analysis.”

Flores also added that in his view, “the Second Amendment is pretty clear and the laws on the books need to be enforced more vigorously.”

Dr. Alma Arredondo-Lynch, D.D.S — whom I later found out is running for Congress in District 23 — asked the question of Flores. When I spoke to her afterward, Arredondo-Lynch said she is quite happy with Flores and the job he has done. But she did take some issue with Flores’ response to this question.

“My concern is with our civil rights,” Arredondo-Lynch stated, pointing to the fact that under red flag laws a disconcerted neighbor could effectively cause someone’s guns to be taken away. “I live alone on a 240-acre ranch…and if a neighbor decides to report me, then I have to prove my innocence rather than the state prove my guilt,” she stressed.

Arredondo-Lynch stated she would like to see a special session called to address this issue — not to advance it, but rather, to crush it decisively.

Another attendee (who is also a candidate for local office), Diana Olvedo-Karau, has been very pleased with Flores’ time in the Senate. “He makes strong points but does it in a way that engages constituents and doesn’t completely offend those of the opposition,” Olvedo-Karau applauded.

Olvedo-Karau also pointed to the need for property taxes to be further addressed in the next session.

The biggest round of applause received from the crowd occurred when Flores told the group of his 100 percent attendance record, casting over 4,300 votes. Whether they agree with him on everything or not, Flores’ constituents obviously appreciate his focus on doing things the right way.

One phrase I heard throughout the day was “Vote your district.” But Flores prefaced it to me, saying, “This isn’t about getting reelected, it’s about doing the right thing.”

And part of that, Flores stressed, is avoiding the rank partisanship that permeates through most of politics these days. He emphasized the need to reach across the aisle to ensure the pillar issues are addressed.

Perhaps it’s fitting for SD19 to select a former lawman to supplant a now-convicted felon — and a man who says he’s “never had a vacation in his life.” Soft-spoken but determined, he clearly enjoys representing his constituents — making a point to ensure they have access to him, and he to them.

As Flores continues his district tour, and heads into election season, it’s fair to wonder if his already road-tested F-150 will make it through all the miles. Yet, if the man behind the wheel is any reflection on his vehicle — the results may not be flashy, but the job will get done.

How Texas Democrats lost a state Senate seat amid talk of a blue wave

Republican Pete Flores’ upset victory in a Democratic-friendly Texas Senate district Tuesday night has spurred GOP jubilation and Democratic soul-searching with less than two months until the November elections.

“All this talk about a ‘blue wave’? Well, the tide is out,” Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick proclaimed at Flores’ election night party in San Antonio.

Flores beat Democrat Pete Gallego, a former U.S. representative, by 6 percentage points in the special election runoff for Senate District 19, where state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, resigned earlier this year after 11 felony convictions. The win made Flores the first Hispanic Republican in the Texas Senate and grew the GOP majority there to 21 members, a key addition as the caucus heads toward November looking to retain its supermajority.

Democrats moved quickly Tuesday night to blame Gov. Greg Abbott for scheduling the special election at a time when turnout was expected to be low and would favor his party. But they were nonetheless demoralized Wednesday, trying to figure out how they let a valuable seat flip in a district where Uresti repeatedly won re-election by double digits and that Hillary Clinton carried by 12 in 2016.

Gallego’s campaign said that at the end of the day, it was not able motivate its voters as much as Flores did.

“Our investment was in the grassroots and trying to increase the number of Democratic voters in the densest precincts where people hadn’t turned out and trying to cut through the clutter of all the other campaigns going on targeting November … and it proved to be a lot more difficult to get people tuned in to the fact that an incredibly important race was happening today,” Gallego strategist Christian Archer said.

The relative enthusiasm for Flores was evident in the district’s biggest Republican counties — places like Medina County, where he routed Gallego with 80 percent of the vote. Flores’ margins in the red counties were more than enough to offset Gallego’s advantage in vote-rich Bexar County, which gave Gallego a modest 54 percent of the vote.

Flores’ campaign said it benefited from a number of factors throughout the race, starting with the deep Democratic divide that unfolded as Gallego battled state Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, ahead of the eight-way July 31 special election. Gutierrez, who won Bexar County then, never endorsed Gallego in the runoff, and on Wednesday, the two sides had different accounts of how much of an effort, if any, Gallego made to court Gutierrez.

But Flores also had to prove himself within his own party and emerge as the consensus candidate on July 31, when two other, lesser-known Republicans were on the ballot. Flores pulled that off with just days to spare, earning late endorsements from a who’s who of top Texas Republicans, starting with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and then Patrick, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Abbott.

“We knew that if we could get in the runoff, we’d have additional help because the stakes would be clear … and the value of winning would be obvious,” said Matt Mackowiak, Flores’ consultant.

The 11th-hour endorsements helped propel Flores from third place in early voting to first place in Election Day ballots — and a decisive first overall on July 31. Still, Democrats insisted the district remained bright blue, noting their four candidates combined for 59 percent of the vote and the three Republicans netted 40 percent. In a statement on Election Night, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said it was clear “working Texans are overwhelmingly choosing Democrats to represent their interests.”

In the runoff, the high-ranking support proved vital — especially that of Patrick, who tapped his campaign account to the tune of nearly $175,000 to help Flores with mail, polling and ads. Gallego had some deep-pocketed donors, but nothing like the campaign machinery that Flores was able to import with Patrick’s aid.

There was an also a united front of political action committees assisting Flores, including groups like the Associated Republicans of Texas and Empower Texans — two outfits that were bitterly at odds during the primaries and runoffs earlier this year. The anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life got involved especially early, running digital ads that sought to disqualify Gallego among socially conservative Hispanic voters in the district.

One of the biggest differences between the two campaigns was media spending. Flores got a significant head start on radio ads — beating Gallego to the airwaves by at least a week. And Flores went on TV, while Gallego never did. Archer defended that decision Wednesday, saying he did not view it as an effective use of money in a district like SD-19 compared to, for example, investing in an aggressive field program.

In their ads and elsewhere, the campaigns took divergent approaches to messaging. Gallego put forward a largely positive pitch about being the safe, reliable choice — “I Trust Pete” was the slogan — while Flores was not afraid to hammer attacks, airing radio and TV ads seeking to tie Gallego to Democratic congressional leader Nancy Pelosi.

Gallego’s loss was not for a lack of money. While he depleted his campaign funds clashing with Gutierrez, he was able to replenish considerably and had much more cash on hand — $153,000 — than Flores did eight days out. That figure left some political observers wondering Tuesday night if he had left serious money unspent, but Archer said the campaign burned through the cash it had — as well as that which it raised — in the final days, ending the race with less than $15,000 in the bank.

The early voting period, which was from Sept. 10-14, held encouraging signs for Flores. Most of the biggest increases in early vote turnout over total turnout for the July 31 election occurred in counties where Flores had bested Gallego, according to an analysis by the website Texas Election Source.

At the end of the day, the race saw the largest percentage increase in turnout from a special election to a special election runoff in four years, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Still, Democrats pointed the finger at Abbott for calling the special election at a time that guaranteed there would be much lower overall turnout than if he had placed it on the November ballot. In an election night statement, Hinojosa, the state Democratic Party chairman, said Abbott “stole an election, plain and simple … denying the people of West Texas and the U.S. Mexico border representation that shares their values.”

Abbott spokesman John Wittman fired back in a statement: “When it comes to stealing things in SD 19, I’d expect that Texas Democrats, under the leadership of convicted felon state senator Carlos Uresti, know what they are talking about. However, the reason this was the biggest increase in turnout between a runoff and a special election in four years was because Col. Flores, whose life has been dedicated to law enforcement, focused on issues that matter to Texans.”

With Flores, there are now 21 Senate Republicans, giving the party breathing room as it approaches the November elections with as many as three GOP seats in play. That means Republicans can lose two of those seats and still have the 19 members required to bring legislation to the floor without Democratic support.

The value of the SD-19 pickup was not lost on the caucus, which issued a first-of-its-kind unanimous endorsement of Flores about two weeks into the runoff.

“The Republican caucus has never had 21 members until today, so that’s a two-thirds majority,” said state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, who chairs the caucus. “That’s a huge advantage on passing legislation like property tax reform.”

Some Republicans also saw Tuesday night as a harbinger for the 23rd Congressional District, a perennial swing district that Gallego once represented in Congress and that overlaps much of SD-19. U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, is fighting for re-election there in November against Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, who was on hand Tuesday night as Gallego addressed his supporters.

“The Resistance collided with reality tonight in SD19,” Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement. “Nobody should be more worried about this Republican blowout than liberal Gina Ortiz Jones, whose chances in TX-23 are growing dimmer by the day.”

Jones’ campaign echoed other Democrats in saying Abbott scheduled the special election “to beat what’s coming in November” — and dismissed the notion her chances had decreased.

“We’re seeing it on the ground every day on our campaign—voters are excited about opportunity, excited about change and excited to vote for Gina on November 6,” Jones spokeswoman Noelle Rosellini said in a statement.