Former state Sen. Pete Flores announced he would seek a return to the Legislature as a candidate in a redrawn version of Senate District 24.
The Texas Legislature began its third special session on Monday, and one of its charges is to redraw political boundaries for the Texas House, Senate, State Board of Education, and the state’s congressional seats. The Senate released a first-draft map of Texas’ districts on Saturday.
Flores became the first Hispanic Republican elected to the state Senate when he won a 2018 special election in District 19 but lost a bid for reelection in 2020.
“When the new redistricting lines were released on Saturday afternoon, it didn’t take long for the phone to start ringing,” Flores said Monday in a prepared statement.
Senate District 24 currently does not include Atascosa County, which Flores calls home. But as proposed, the new District 24 would stretch further south to include parts of Atascosa and all of Medina County, which had been part of the District 19 that Flores represented. District 24 is represented by Republican Dawn Buckingham, who is leaving the Senate to run for Texas Land Commissioner in 2022.
“It’s not the old District 19, but it still encompasses the heartland of Texas, the parts of Texas I most closely identify with,” Flores stated. “I know the people and the ideas and values they hold dear. … I intend to continue my service to the people of District 24 and to Texas in the Texas Senate.”
Flores flipped District 19 to the GOP after former state Sen. Carlos Uresti was convicted on 11 felony charges and resigned from his seat. But he lost to San Antonio Democrat Roland Gutierrez in 2020.
Buckingham endorsed Flores’ campaign for her district.
“Pete, having served with you in the Texas Senate, I’ve seen your compassion for the people of Texas, your commitment to conservative values, and your dedication to serving your constituents,” Buckingham said in a statement. “That’s why I can think of no better person to represent the incredible families and communities of Senate District 24 than Pete Flores. I’m proud to endorse him and I hope you’ll join me in supporting him.”
The special session is scheduled to run for 30 days total. The redistricting process is based on new census data that was released later than usual due to pandemic-related delays.
Redistricting has already sparked conflict as Gutierrez and state Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) sued over the process earlier this month. The two argue that the Texas Constitution requires redistricting to occur during the first regular session after decennial census data is released, and are asking a federal district court to take on the redrawing process instead.