Elections 2021State HouseSpecial Election to Replace San Antonio Lawmaker Heads to Runoff Between Republican and Democrat

Leading candidate John Lujan, a Republican endorsed by Governor Greg Abbott, gathered just 41.5 percent of the vote.
September 28, 2021
The special election to replace outgoing state Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio) will head to a runoff.

Leading candidate John Lujan, a Republican, fell 9 points shy of the required majority to take the seat outright.

Democratic candidate Frank Ramirez took second place with 20 percent of the vote.

Ramirez has a history in San Antonio local politics, formerly working as the zoning and planning director for Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (District 7). He boasts endorsements from Pacheco, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, and current councilors Jalen McKee-Rodriguez (District 2) and Adriana Rocha-Garcia (District 4).

Lujan, endorsed by Governor Greg Abbott, formerly held the seat but lost it to Tomas Uresti (D-San Antonio) in 2016. He made an unsuccessful bid to reclaim it in 2018 but lost to Pacheco.

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Since Lujan held the seat between legislatures, he lacks a clear voting record. He took the seat in a special election following the resignation of Joe Farias (D-San Antonio) in 2015 but lost to Uresti in the 2016 general election.

He has signaled moderate stances on some issues. In healthcare, Lujan favors hospital price transparency laws like the one that just took effect and also “supports reforms to our healthcare system that will expand access to care.”

Pacheco retired from the legislature to take an academic position at San Antonio College. He leaves behind a somewhat moderate record, joining Republicans on certain minor bills like the Star Spangled Banner Protection Act but sticking with Democrats on major legislation like the Texas Heartbeat Act.

Pacheco initially voted for constitutional carry but voted against it later and said he had intended to vote ‘nay’ the first time. Regardless, the Bexar County Democrats censured him for the initial vote. He was one of seven Democrats who voted to pass the bill to engrossment.

Governor Greg Abbott announced the special election for Texas House District 118 on September 7 about a month after news broke that Pacheco was leaving politics to teach.

Here are the night’s results for each of the five candidates on the ballot:

  • Katie Faris (D), a Southside Independent School District board member —12.07 percent
  • Lujan (R) — 41.53 percent
  • Desi Martinez (D), a San Antonio lawyer — 17.58 percent
  • Ramirez (D) — 20.01 percent
  • Adam Salyer (R), the Republican nominee in the 2020 general election — 8.81 percent


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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.