© 2022 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Pete Gallego Watch Party, Castros Talk Latino Voting, And A Texas Election Wrap-up

In what was one of the wildest rides in the Texas - Congressional District 23 - Democrat Pete Gallego beat incumbent Francisco Canseco in a race the GOP candidate finally conceded today (Friday). Republicans still control the Texas House, but Democrats gained seven seats to eliminate the Republican super-majority. The influential Latino vote is a hot topic, and both Castro brothers were on news networks this week to talk about the future. Sylvia Manzano from Latino Decisions talks about her thoughts going forward. Finally, Harvey Kronberg joins us to size up the Texas results.

Election night at the Pete Gallego Campaign watch party

Democratic challenger Pete Gallego won just over 50% of the vote, but Republican incumbent Francisco Canseco claimed there were voting irregularities and refused to concede for days following the election; Today (Friday) Canseco finally conceded the race. Election Night was a roller coaster ride at the Gallego election party, as he found himself down one minute and then leading the next as the vote tallies trickled into the Texas Secretary of State's Office.

When early voting numbers are posted at 7 p.m. it didn't look good for Gallego - incumbent Francisco Canseco had 55 percent of the vote - but the mood was still positive at the Gallego camp.

"It's very close and it certainly can go either way, but we knew that from the beginning and so, it isn't over until it's over," said Canseco arriving at the watch party to cheers.

At 11:16 p.m. nearly all the precincts had reported and Gallego's victory seemed eminent, but on the other side of San Antonio, Canseco would still not concede the race. Finally, just before midnight, Congressman-elect Joaquín Castro arrived to introduce Gallego as a fellow elected congressman.

Credit Texas District Viewer
Court-ordered interim congressional map used for the 2012 elections.

"I want to tell you that today, I am more energized than ever to make sure that that American dream is realized for everyone else, just the way that it has been realized tonight for me," said an emotional Gallego.

The more things stay the same, the more they change

Election night didn’t change the leadership of Texas; the Republicans still control both houses and the Democrats continue their streak of losing statewide races, a streak that began in 1994. However, the GOP did lose its super majority in the Texas House, and that gave Democratic State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer something to celebrate.

"We will now have 55 Democrats elected to the House - that is more than a third of the Texas House - you are going to see the growth in the Mexican-American legislative caucus grow to I believe somewhere in the neighborhood of about 44 or 45, which is pretty significant."

"The speaker's race (speaker of the house) is either non-controversial or is hotly contested, and considering that we are 45 days from a legislative session and we don't have a speaker whose announced enough support to seek re-election, that tells me that there are a lot of dissatisfied parties - not just democrats. I imagine there is dissatisfaction within the Republican Party; maybe they think he's too conservative, maybe they think he's not conservative enough. The bottom line is this, whoever is the speaker of the house, they have to recognize that they need to work with all parties."

Castro Brothers talk Latino voting in National T.V. appearances

Latino voters came out of election day as a big winner. They voted in high numbers and for the most part they voted for Democrats. As the Latino population grows and the Republican voting base shrinks, the GOP finds itself at a turning point. The party needs to start attracting more Latino voters, or else remain a national party out of power.

This is a lesson that the Democratic Party already learned, which is why it made strategic sense to select San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro as the Democratic Convention keynote speaker.

Interviewed Thursday on CNN, Castro said Republicans need to do more than change their tone to win Latino votes.

Credit David Martin Davies / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
Protestors holding signs in English and Spanish stand outside the Canseco campaign headquarters the Friday before election day. Races between two Hispanic candidates went overwhelmingly toward the democratic candidate in Texas.

“What it means for Republicans is they have to become a bigger tent party; they can’t toe the line of the Tea Party and expect that they are going to be able to appeal to Latinos or to other groups,” said Castro.

Julián's twin brother, Joaquín, was elected to Congress on Tuesday to represent the 20th Congressional District of Texas, which is in San Antonio. Joaquín was on MSNBC on Thursday saying that only recruiting Hispanic Republican candidates isn’t going to get the Latino to vote GOP.

“They’ve elected several folks now – Brian Sandoval, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio - I’m hoping that those Latino Republicans will be able to have a real effect on their party – and start to moderate them with respect to these issues,” said Joaquín.

Julián said the reason Texas hasn’t gone blue despite the high percentage of Latinos is low voter turnout, but the right candidate could change that. Political watchers in Texas are talking about Castro for a future run for Texas Governor.

Sylvia Manzano - Senior Project Manager for Latino Decisions:

"No matter what context we look at Latino support for the president, it was overwhelming. Nationally, he picked up 75 percent of the Hispanic vote, and here in Texas it was 70 percent."

"In the last several years the Republican party has adopted a series of policy positions that have been somewhat antagonistic to Latinos. Arizona SB 1070 is probably the marquee piece of legislation that people can think of that is a real negative signal to the Latino electorate."

So how did all the Texas Races pan-out?

There were plenty of candidates across Texas that ended election day either crushed or elated – Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg has been keeping score.

"We now have 95 Republicans and 55 Democrats (in the Texas House) - a net gain of seven Democrats. That's significant because when the Republicans had two-thirds plus one and they could do constitutional amendments without needing any Democratic support, they could suspend the rules at will if they chose to do so, and they had absolute control over the chamber. Denied that two-thirds, to do some things they are going to require some Democratic support."

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi