After mail-in ballots received Wednesday were added to the final special election vote tally, businessman Fred Rangel and former City Councilman Ray Lopez will face each other in a runoff election for Texas House District 125.
Rangel, the lone Republican in the field of five, secured a spot in the runoff election after pulling 38 percent of the vote. Among the four Democrats, Lopez (19.5 percent) edged out education policy advocate Coda Rayo-Garza (19 percent) by just 28 votes after all in-person and mail-in ballots were counted. Former HD 125 Rep. Art Reyna and activist Steve Huerta received 17 and 6.5 percent of the vote, respectively.
Callanen had expected a tight race in an election with five candidates and and low voter turnout, she said. As she predicted, most ballots were cast during early voting. For full results, click here.
Gov. Greg Abbott will formally set the date for the runoff election, which is expected to be in early March.
Of the 101,146 registered voters in Texas House District 125, only 6 percent, or 6,122 voters, cast ballots in the special election to replace Democrat Justin Rodriguez, who left his House seat to become Bexar County’s Commissioner for Precinct 2.
After all the in-person votes were counted, Rangel credited his team, saying he had the “best of the best” working his campaign.
“I’m a businessman and I think like one,” he said. “… We were given 30 days to master being able to get a message out and get people behind you. I believe if we continue the success of what we’re doing, people will continue [to give us] their votes and support.”
Lopez also thanked his supporters and campaign staff for their work over the past few weeks. Standing at a podium in a temporary office space that served as his campaign headquarters, he said his place in the runoff would not have been possible without their selfless contributions.
“Thank you for being here and sharing the moment,” Lopez said. “We’ve got another moment ahead.”
Lopez said he discovered special elections are called that for a reason, and he was looking forward to continuing his campaign into the runoff against Rangel.
“They [special elections] are completely different than anything else you can plan for and project,” Lopez said. “This upcoming runoff will be much more traditional. There will be more of a party delineation.”
Rayo-Garza joined a few supporters and campaign staffers at Lisa’s Mexican Restaurant on the city’s Northwest Side, where they sat around laptops waiting for early voting results to roll in. She started the night in fourth place with 660 early votes and ended in third with 1,164 votes.
“We did what we could knowing we had all these things to overcome,” said Rayo-Garza, who was seeking public office for the first time. “We came in new to this field and started as the underdog. But we’ve built something incredible.”
In a statement issued Wednesday, Rayo-Garza thanked voters for being part of the democratic process.
“We have done our due diligence and ensured that every ballot cast has been accounted for,” she said. “I am grateful to our Bexar County Elections judges, and our administrator, Jacque Callanen, for their diligence. I firmly believe we have done everything we can and encourage our supporters to commit to keeping House District 125 in Democratic hands.”