The latest round of Capitol musical chairs is almost over after runoff elections Tuesday for four legislative seats.
In the evening's marquee matchup, state Rep. José Menéndez easily defeated fellow Democrat Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer 59 percent to 41 percent in the race for Senate District 26, according to unofficial returns from the secretary of state. Martinez Fischer, the front-runner after the first round of special elections, had called out Menéndez for trying to appeal to conservative voters as Republican groups attacked Martinez Fischer in hopes of rallying GOP voters for the more moderate Menéndez, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
The winner will move across the Capitol from the 150-member House to the 31-member Senate to replace Democrat Leticia Van de Putte, who is stepping down to run for mayor of San Antonio. His seat in the lower chamber will be filled by a future special election.
In the other San Antonio showdown, for House District 123, Democrat Diego Bernal, a former city councilman, handily beat Republican Nunzio Previtera. Bernal received 63 percent of vote to Previtera’s 36 percent, according to unofficial returns, and will take the House seat of Democrat Mike Villarreal, who is also running for mayor of San Antonio.
Bernal received key San Antonio endorsements from the Express-News and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro.
In Central Texas' House District 17, Republican John Cyrier, a general contractor, beat the more conservative Brent Golemon, a businessman and entrepreneur, 52 percent to 48 percent. He will replace Tim Kleinschmidt, who left the House for a job at the Texas Department of Agriculture.
The contest to fill the House District 13 seat left vacant by new state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham was won by attorney Leighton Schubert, who defeated fellow Republican Carolyn Bilski 57 percent to 43 percent in unofficial returns.
Kolkhorst left the House after she won a special election in December for the empty Senate seat previously held by Comptroller Glenn Hegar.