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Four Legislative Seats Up for Grabs in Runoffs

A round of Capitol musical chairs will play out on Tuesday when voters decide who will fill three seats in the Texas House and one in the Senate.

State Reps. José Menéndez (left) and Trey Martinez Fischer, both Democrats from San Antonio, are seeking the Texas Senate seat vacated by Leticia Van de Putte, who is running for mayor of San Antonio.

A round of Capitol musical chairs will play out on Tuesday when voters decide who will fill three seats in the Texas House of Representatives and one in the Senate. 

Two San Antonio-area seats are up for grabs — one in the Senate and one in the House — along with two Central Texas seats in the House. Special elections in January yielded clear leaders, but none secured the 50 percent of the vote necessary to avoid a runoff, setting the stage for Tuesday’s mano-a-mano contests. 

The race for the Senate seat of Democrat Leticia Van de Putte, who is stepping down to run for mayor of San Antonio, features two House Democrats. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the front-runner, has called out opponent Rep. José Menéndez for trying to appeal to conservative voters, while GOP groups attacked Martinez Fischer in the hopes of drawing Republican support for the more moderate Menéndez, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Martinez Fischer and Menéndez received 43 and 25 percent of the first-round vote on Jan. 6, respectively. The winner on Tuesday will move across the Capitol from the 150-member House to the 31-member Senate, vacating a seat in the lower chamber to be filled by a future special election.

The other San Antonio showdown pits Democrat Diego Bernal, a former city councilman, against Republican Nunzio Previtera, who runs an insurance agency with his wife. The winner will replace another San Antonio mayoral candidate, Democrat Mike Villarreal.

In January, Bernal won the endorsement of the Express-News and 47 percent of the first-round vote. Previtera finished a distant second with 21 percent, and recently was endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

“As a successful businessman, Nunzio represents all that can be achieved through dedication and hard work and will be a steadfast advocate” for education and job growth, Abbott said in a statement.

At the end of early voting Friday night, nearly 12,000 people had voted in the two San Antonio elections, according to the Express-News.

In Central Texas, Republican John Cyrier, a general contractor, is favored over the more conservative Brent Golemon, a businessman and entrepreneur. The race to replace Tim Kleinschmidt, who left the House for a job at the Texas Department of Agriculture, has intensified since the first round, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The special election for the House seat left vacant by new state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, was closer than the other first-round votes. Austin County Judge Carolyn Bilski won 43 percent of the vote and attorney Leighton Schubert won 32 percent. Both candidates are Republicans.

Kolkhorst left the House after she won a special election in December for the empty Senate seat last held by Comptroller Glenn Hegar.

When the music stops and the polls close Tuesday night, the Legislature will be four seats closer to complete. But another chair — the House seat of either Martinez Fischer or Menéndez — will be up for grabs.

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Politics State government 2014 elections Texas Legislature