A crowded field of candidates will vie to replace the late Sen. Mario Gallegos Jr. in Harris County’s Senate District 6 race, creating the likelihood of a runoff, which would further delay the amount of time the district goes without representation in the upper chamber.
Eight contenders — five Democrats, two Republicans and a member of the Green Party – filed paperwork to be on the ballot for the Jan. 26 special election to succeed Gallegos, who died Oct. 16 following complications associated with a 2007 liver transplant. Gov. Rick Perry set the election date last month.
Two Democratic veterans in Harris County politics emerged early on as the front-runners: state Rep. Carol Alvarado, 45, who also served six years on the Houston City Council, and Sylvia Garcia, 62, a former Harris County commissioner and city of Houston controller. Republican R.W. Bray, 37, who lost to Gallegos in November, also announced his intentions early on to run for the seat, and Republican Dorothy Marie Olmos, 54, an educator who ran for the State Board of Education in November, filed Dec. 14.
Also in the mix is Democrat Susan Delgado, 48, who lists her occupation as real estate broker. She had previously challenged Gallegos, losing in 2004 and 2008. Democrats Rodolfo M. Reyes, 59, a business consultant and former member of the League City City Council, and Joaquin Martinez, 32, a self-described “silent community leader in the East End,” filed to run on Dec. 27, the last day candidates could file. Green Party candidate Maria Selva, 52, has also filed. She lists her occupation as a community organizer.
The district leans Democratic; Gallegos won posthumously with 71 percent of the vote.
Following the Jan. 26 election, the county has 10 days to canvass the results, while Perry’s office has 14, said Alicia Phillips Pierce, the secretary of state’s deputy communications director. The governor’s canvass can’t take place until the county finishes its own, and Perry has five days after his canvass to order the runoff election. The runoff would have to be set on a date between the 12th and 25th day after Perry ordered it, and it must take place on a Tuesday or a Saturday.
Following the runoff election, the county has 10 days to canvass the results and the governor’s office has 14. The winner cannot take office until the governor's canvass, which means the district could be without representation until spring.