State Rep. Tara Rios Ybarra lost her bid for reelection to J.M. Lozano, ending her short career as a representative for HD-43. With 96 percent of the precincts reporting, Lozano has more than 8,200 votes to Rios Ybarra's 6,392 — taking the seat by more than 12 percentage points.
Early voting numbers from the district in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley had Rios Ybarra leading the Kingsville businessman by about 200 votes. But, throughout the race she was forced to defend her moderate views in light of accusations hurled by Lozano that she is a “closet Republican.” Lozano said the issue must have resonated with voters.
“I think I connected on a more heart-to-heart level with the constituents and I attribute that to being more connected to the district,” he said late Tuesday night from his home.
The district covers six counties — Jim Hogg, Brooks, Willacy, Kenedy, Kleberg and northern Cameron — and about a third of the families with children live in poverty. Nearly 40 percent of residents have less than a high school education.
Rios Ybarra was more successful at raising money for her re-election bid. Finance reports filed with the Texas Secretary of State reflect that from Jan. 1, 2009 to Feb. 20 of this year she was able to haul in about $424,000. During the same time frame she spent about $260,000. Lozano raised about $278,000 and spent about $146,000.
Rios Ybarra was first elected to the Texas House in 2008 after she defeated then-incumbent Juan Escobar. She previously served as a council member for the City of South Padre Island and is a native of Corpus Christi. Lozano is a restaurant franchise owner as son of Mexican-born doctor.