A full complement of state senators will soon be seated for the first time in the 2013 legislative session. Sylvia Garcia, a former Harris County commissioner, defeated State Representative (and fellow Democrat) Carol Alvarado in Saturday's run-off election to fill the Senate District 6 seat. For 17 years, the seat had been occupied by Senator Mario Gallegos, who died in October.
Garcia won 52 percent of the vote on Saturday, besting Alvarado by 1,048 votes. Only 6.2 percent of the district’s 292,000 registered voters turned out on Saturday, slightly better than the 5.6 percent of voted in the January special election. In that eight-candidate run, Garcia beat Alvarado by 611 votes.
"Thank you #SD6! I'm so proud that you chose to send me to the Texas Senate. I will never stop fighting for you!" Garcia tweeted from her campaign account on Saturday night. Alvarado, for her part, struck an upbeat note on Twitter about continuing to represent House District 145: "I go back to Austin on Monday, and I won't skip a beat!" she tweeted Saturday night.
Garcia almost certainly will not be sworn in as senator until after the March 8 bill filing deadline has passed. Per the state election code, Harris County has 10 days to canvass the election results, after which Governor Rick Perry has four days to do the same. (After the special election, it took the county five days to complete the canvass report.)
At Off the Kuff , Houston-based political blogger Charles Kuffner lamented the fact that Garcia will not being seated until after the bill-filing deadline: "If Sen.-elect Garcia were able to file bills, I’d recommend that her first would be to amend the special election procedure to allow for an immediate swearing in when a special election to fill a vacancy occurs during a session and there’s no question of a recount or other challenge to the election to fill that vacancy," he wrote. "I mean seriously, in a just world Garcia would be sworn in on Monday." (In similar situations where Republicans have died in office in safe Republican districts, Perry swiftly scheduled the special election to replace them.)
As Paul Burka noted yesterday, Alvarado had been backed by Texans for Lawsuit Reform and Gallegos's family whereas Garcia was supported by Steve Mostyn and a majority of unions in the district.