87th LegislatureAudioElections 2021Early Voting to Replace Retiring Democratic State Representative Begins in Bexar County

Three Democrats and two Republicans are vying to replace retiring state Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio), who took the seat in 2019.
September 20, 2021
Early voting to replace outgoing state Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio) began today. Three Democrats and two Republicans are vying to replace Pacheco, who leaves behind a somewhat moderate record in the 87th Texas legislature.

Governor Greg Abbott announced the special election for Texas House District 118 a month after news broke that Pacheco was leaving politics to teach at San Antonio College.

Here are the five candidates running to fill his seat:

  • Katie Farias (D), a Southside Independent School District board member.
  • John Lujan (R), who lost the seat to Tomas Uresti (D-San Antonio) in 2016 and unsuccessfully ran against Pacheco in 2018.
  • Desi Martinez (D), a San Antonio lawyer.
  • Frank Ramirez (D), former zoning and planning director for District 7 on the San Antonio City Council, who boasts the endorsements of Pacheco and two councilors: Jalen McKee-Rodriguez (District 2) and Adriana Rocha-Garcia (District 4).
  • Adam Salyer (R), who unsuccessfully ran for the seat as the Republican nominee in 2020.

Pacheco’s district leaned to the left ahead of the November 2020 election, foretelling his victory over Salyer. According to The Texan’s partisan index analysis of 2016 and 2018 election results, House District 118 favored Democrats by a median share of 58 percent.

Pacheco parted with Democrats on some legislation but typically didn’t venture past party lines on major legislation.

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He voted for Senate Bill 4, also known as the “Star-Spangled Banner Protection Act.”

He initially voted for constitutional carry, for which the Bexar County Democratic Party censured him. Pacheco voted against the bill in later votes and changed the record to say that he meant to vote against it initially.

He voted with most Democrats against the Texas Heartbeat Act, the statewide public camping ban, and a bill to strip federal regulation away from firearm suppressors made in Texas, to name a few high-profile examples.

Pacheco also joined most of his Democratic colleagues in breaking quorum during the special session but did not accompany them to the nation’s capitol to lobby for federal voting legislation.

Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University’s Baker Institute, ranked Pacheco seventh from the right among Democrats in the Texas House.

Pacheco authored three bills that passed the 87th legislature, all sponsored by Republicans in the Senate. One removes signature requirements to rent a car, another requires courts to consider whether defendants can afford costs that might arise from community supervision, and the third tweaks the cap on how many baccalaureate programs community colleges can offer.


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.