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Menendez Calls Senate Runoff Race "A Brand New Campaign"

Shelley Kofler
TPR News
Candidate Jose Menendez talks to Sen. Leticia Van de Putte at his election night party. He's running to replace her in the Texas Senate.

In a packed room at Cha-Cha’s Restaurant, Rep. Jose Menendez told supporters not to worry about his distant, second-place finish in the special election to replace Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in the Texas Senate.  He did well enough to put him into a runoff election with the front-runner, Trey Martinez Fischer, who like Menendez is a Democratic state representative.

“I feel darn good about our chances. I’ll tell you what,” he told supporters.

Martinez Fischer outdistanced four opponents with 43 percent of the vote. He needed more than 50 percent to win the race outright.  Menendez captured 25 percent of the vote.  Voters cast almost a third of the ballots for the other Democrat and two Republicans.

Menendez told the crowd the campaign starts over again now that the race is down to two competitors.

“You don’t take a lead into a runoff.  It’s a brand new campaign. We’re going to win this race because we’re going to connect with the people of Senate District 26,” he said.  

Menendez said he finished second because Martinez Fischer outspent him and wrongly accused him of being cozy with a Republican-leaning group that attacked Martinez Fischer on TV.  Menendez said campaign contributions he received from donors associated with Texans for Lawsuit Reform were blown out of proportion.

“I want people to review his financial records. A lot of (donations) he’s getting are coming from PACS.  People need to do a full analysis before they start coming after me.”

Menendez says he’ll ask each of the candidates who didn’t make the runoff to support him. He said Martinez Fischer’s confrontational personality is one reason he’s the better choice.

“If you want to elect someone who wants to just fight with other people you know where to go,” he said referring to Martinez Fischer’s campaign. 

“But if you want to elect the next senator from District 26 to get things done for you and all the citizens of San Antonio and Texas, I’m your guy.” he said.

The governor must still set the date for the runoff election which is expected to take place next month.

Shelley Kofler is Texas Public Radio’s news director. She joined the San Antonio station in December 2014 and leads a growing staff that produces two weekly programs; a daily talk show, news features, reports and online content. Prior to TPR, Shelley served as the managing editor and news director at KERA in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.