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Menéndez Upsets Martinez Fischer, Wins Texas Senate Seat

Shelley Kofler
TPR News
State Rep. Jose Menendez with family at victory party.

A bitter battle between two state representatives and friends ended last night, with José Menéndez upsetting Trey Martinez Fischer, to win the Texas Senate seat long held by Leticia Van de Putte.

Menéndez overcame his fellow Democrat’s double-digit lead to defeat him by 59-41 percent.

Six weeks ago, Menéndez was a long-shot to win San Antonio’s Senate District 26 seat.  He had finished second in a five-way race, which put him in a runoff with Martinez Fischer, but he had finished 18 points behind. 

As supporters cheered his coming-from-behind win, Menéndez thanked God and credited his supporters’ hard work for his turning the tables on his opponent as they went one-on-one. 

Credit Shelley Kofler / TPR News
TPR News
José Menéndez was congratulated by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. He will succeed her to represent Senate District 26.

He also acknowledged something Martinez Fischer had tried to use against him during the campaign, that, as a Democrat, Menéndez had reached out to Republicans for their support.

“I will work hard to represent everyone, whether they voted for me or didn’t vote for me, or didn’t vote at all. I’m here to represent everyone,” said Menéndez.

Throughout the campaign, the conservative-leaning Texans for Lawsuit Reform spent big money on TV ads, attacking Martinez Fischer as a combative, liberal partisan who did favors for trial lawyers.

Menéndez tried to distance himself from the group’s attacks, but acknowledged the ads may have had an impact.

“The only thing that happened was that people became aware of our track records. I think that’s what happened, and who we are as representatives, because they have to make an educated decision,” he said.

Menendez said his priority in the Senate will be better funding for some important needs.

“I think we have to get sure we fully fund everything that needs to be funded: Public education; our retired teachers need a cost of living adjustment; our transportation; our infrastructure.” 

Menendez’s win means there will be another special election to fill the Texas House seat he will leave, when he moves across the State Capitol to the Senate.

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.