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Republican John Lujan narrowly wins San Antonio's Texas House District 118 in runoff

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Republican John Lujan (left) narrowly defeated Democrat Frank Ramirez (right) in a runoff to represent the South Bexar County Texas House district formerly held by Democrat Leo Pacheco. - FACEBOOK / JOHN LUJAN (LEFT) AND FRANK RAMIREZ (RIGHT)
  • Facebook / John Lujan (left) and Frank Ramirez (right)
  • Republican John Lujan (left) narrowly defeated Democrat Frank Ramirez (right) in a runoff to represent the South Bexar County Texas House district formerly held by Democrat Leo Pacheco.
A South Side district that's historically leaned blue flipped Republican on Tuesday in a widely watched runoff for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives.

Retired firefighter John Lujan, who had briefly held the Hispanic-dominated District 118 seat five years ago, beat Frank Ramirez, a former city staffer and legislative aid, by fewer than 300 votes — a margin of just 2.5%. Lujan will replace former state Rep. Leo Pacheco, a Democrat who resigned to teach at San Antonio College.

Republicans cheered the victory as a sign their strategy of winning over Latinx voters in South Texas to make up for flagging support in the cities and suburbs will bear fruit in the 2022 general election.

Dozens of elected officials from both parties steamed into the South Side to mobilize voters ahead of the election, and a total of $700,000 flowed into the coffers of the two candidates, according to a Texas Tribune analysis. In the end, Lujan outraised Ramirez almost two to one.

Democrats said they hope to retake the seat next November, citing both the narrow margin and confusion around polling for the contest. The runoff, set by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, coincided with a general election on state constitutional amendments and local bonds, which both candidates said created voter uncertainty.

Abbott didn't announce the runoff date until the Monday before early voting, making it too late to include both contests on the same ballot. That meant residents had to vote twice to cast a ballot in the House race and the general election.

Democrats pledged to work hard to flip District 118 blue again, noting that Lujan's previous House tenure, which also came after a special election, lasted less than a year.

Unless Abbott calls another special session of the Texas Legislature, Lujan won't be able to file legislation until after next year's general election. The House isn't scheduled to reconvene again until 2023.

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