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Texas HD 125 Special Election Ends In Runoff With Uncertain Matchup

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Joey Palacios
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Texas Public Radio
Republican Fred Rangel led the field Tuesday night with 38 percent of the vote.

There are some mail-in ballots still to be counted in the Texas House 125 District race but not enough to change the outcome.

Bexar County Elections Adminstrator Jacque Callanen said Wednesday 18 mail-in ballots were expected to be tallied and added to the early voting totals.

Lopez was the second place finisher and will face leading candidate Republican Fred Rangel in a special runoff election to be announced by the governor.

Rangel is 64 and has lived in the district since 1964. He’s never held public office. He ran for San Antonio City Council in 2015 but did not make the run-off in that race. He was a Republican committeeman for State Senate District 26. He is a commercial designer and builder.

Early Tuesday night at his campaign party off Bandera Road, he felt confident about his lead.

“We have been serious about everything that we do -- the numbers show it,” Rangel said. “I believe that when we see the end of this that we’re going to see a change, obviously, in direction not just in this district.”

He said if elected in the run-off his main priorities would be education and property tax reform.

“School finance has had inequity issues for a very, very long time so it is my passion to bring some equality to the school finance situation,” he said.

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Credit Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
Former San Antonio District 6 Councilman Ray Lopez stands with his wife and campaign staff after the last precincts were reported Tuesday night

Lopez is a former San Antonio city councilman for District 6 who served from 2009 to 2017 before reaching term limits. Before that he was a school board member for Northside Independent School District from 1990 to 1999. He’s no stranger to political life but noted this was a different kind of election.

“I really learned the definition of what everybody meant by ‘special elections are called special for a reason,’ and they are,” Lopez said. “They are completely different than anything else that people plan for and can project. This upcoming run-off is really going to be much more traditional. It will be a Republican against a Democrat. It will be mobilizing bases. There will be more of a party delineation.”

Lopez said his priorities in the legislature would be education and transportation.

House District 125 contains Northwest San Antonio and Bexar County and includes the city of Leon Valley. It has 101,000 registered voters but the election saw 6,122 ballots cast, or a turnout of just 6.05 percent.

An official date for the run-off election has not been set yet. Gov. Greg Abbott will decide the date.

Given expected timelines, that race could happen on a Tuesday in early or mid-March.

The special election for HD 125 was necessary because Democrat Justin Rodriguez vacated the seat last month to serve as a Bexar County commissioner.

This is the second special election in less than a year that will see a Democrat and Republican face each other after crowded runoffs. State Senate District 19 saw eight candidates in the field last summer: three Republicans, four Democrats and one Libertarian. That race saw a run-off with Republican Pete Flores as the victor in a district that Democrats held for decades.

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.
Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.