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Moderate Democrat stronghold continues in South Texas after LaMantia wins runoff

Morgan LaMantia at a campaign event in Elsa, Texas, ahead of the primary runoff.
Morgan LaMantia for State Senate Facebook
Morgan LaMantia at a campaign event in Elsa, Texas, ahead of the primary runoff.

Morgan LaMantia will stay in the Senate District 27 race after winning yesterday’s primary runoff after securing 57% of the vote. Sara Stapleton-Barrera won 43% of the vote.

LaMantia sought to continue a slightly more progressive version of familiar South Texas Democrat leadership, akin to Brownsville Senator Eddie Lucio Jr, who currently serves Senate District 27. The outgoing senator, who announced his retirement last year, voted alongside Republicans on culture issues for most of his career. Lucio backed LaMantia early on in her campaign.

Stapleton-Barrera campaigned on removing the status quo from Rio Grande Valley politics, openly criticizing Lucio’s conservative leadership and LaMantia’s ties to him. Stapleton-Barrera also criticized LaMantia’s political donors, such as $25,000 from the Texas for Lawsuit Reform PAC during the March primary. The PAC, which mostly donates to Republicans, donated over half a million dollars to Lucio throughout his terms.

LaMantia received $265,000 in donations and spent nearly $1.8 million for the runoff, collecting nearly $3 million in loans along the way. Stapleton-Barrera received and spent about $125,000, with about $61,000 in loans.

This is the second time Stapleton-Barrera, a Brownsville-based attorney and activist, has gone to runoff. She nearly unseated Lucio in 2020, losing by just 2,000 votes. Stapleton-Barrera announced her campaign shortly after Lucio said he was retiring at the end of his current term.

LaMantia is an in-house counsel for McAllen-based L&F Distributors, which is owned by her family. LaMantia’s campaign has sided with mainstream Democrat and Republican causes, seen recently in a mailer criticizing how both parties are handling the U.S. immigration system.

Stapleton-Barrera has campaigned on establishing term limits for state senators, in a move critical of Lucio’s 30-year tenure in office. She is also advocating for more transparency in the state’s legislature. Both candidates are pro-choice.

LaMantia will face Adam Hinojosa, a Corpus Christi business owner who won the Republican primary, in November.

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Gaige Davila is the Border and Immigration Reporter for Texas Public Radio.