El Conservador Talk Radio Interview
Lujan is right choice in special runoff
Published 4:51 pm, Monday, January 18, 2016
Voters in Texas House District
118 are being confronted with a confusing situation that features simultaneous, separate campaigns for the legislative post.
First on the agenda is the Jan. 26 special election to fill the House seat vacated by retired Democratic state Rep. Joe Farias. Six candidates sought the post in November, but none won a majority of votes. The runoff contenders, Republican John Lujan and Democrat Tomas Uresti, also are candidates in their respective March primaries.
We recommend that voters cast their ballots for Lujan to fill the unexpired House term, which will end before the next regular legislative session. Lujan is a retired San Antonio firefighter who helped launch a successful technology company in 1999.
Lujan has deep roots in the community and a strong track record of community involvement. As a successful businessman, Lujan will bring an understanding of small-business needs. The Republican also offers a level-headed, thoughtful approach to issues.
Early voting in the special election runoff lasts only three days — Wednesday through Friday. We urge district residents of both parties to make the trip to the polls and participate in the special election. Early voting in the March 1 primaries will be in February.
Lujan draws national GOP support
By Bobby Cervantes
January 18, 2016 Updated: January 18, 2016 2:51pm
When John Lujan, a Republican activist in San Antonio, threw his hat in the ring for the District 118 race in the Texas House, he faced a very different dynamic than his previous attempts at elected office. As the San Antonio Express-News columnist Gilbert Garcia reminds us, Lujan, an IT business owner, ran for the same House seat almost a decade ago and came in a distant third in a three-person GOP primary.
This time, however, Lujan benefited from a particularly nasty split among prominent Democratic San Antonio families, each with its own candidate to replace retiring state Rep. Joe Farias. After 10 years in the House, Farias departed the chamber and threw the race open, setting up a primary fight between his son, Gabe Farias, and Tomas Uresti, the brother of state Sen. Carlos Uresti.
Uresti came out on top, and he will now have to face Lujan later this month. It shouldn’t have been that surprising that the Democratic tension gave Lujan a chance to make a respectable, even threatening, showing in a district that political observers have long considered a safe Democratic seat. Now, Republicans are looking to capitalize on the Democratic chaos as they select the HD-118 race as a Race to Watch in 2016.
“With his background as a local firefighter and a small businessman, John is a great fit for the Texas House,” House Speaker Joe Straus said in a statement. “He would bring a valuable perspective to the House as we work to strengthen our economy, improve education and expand economic opportunity. I’m grateful that he has stepped forward to serve and I look forward to welcoming him to our local delegation in the Texas House.”
Straus is the chairman of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, charged with leading the effort to elect Republicans to state legislatures around the country. The GOP currently holds 69 out of 99 state legislative chamber majorities, including both chambers in Texas.
It’s an attractive potential pickup for Republicans, but Democrats are quick to throw cold water on those plans in HD-118. Sure, there was an unusual, messy intra-party special election fight that Democrats probably didn’t want to spill out into public view, but the seat may still lean in their favor. If party folks can unite in the Jan. 26 runoff, then Uresti could pull off a victory, but he’s on notice now that whatever happens, it won’t come without a few bruises.
Austin Bureau Reporter, Houston Chronicle
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) highlights the Texas House special election in District 118 (San Antonio) with Republican candidate John Lujan as a Race to Watch in 2016. The special election on January 26 gives Republicans an opportunity to pick up a blue seat and add a member to the Texas House of Representatives’ Republican caucus. Lujan has an outstanding record of service to his community as a retired firefighter, small business owner, Sunday school teacher, husband and father.
Leadership from the RSLC issued the following statements on today’s announcement:
“With his background as a local firefighter and a small businessman, John is a great fit for the Texas House. He would bring a valuable perspective to the House as we work to strengthen our economy, improve education and expand economic opportunity. I’m grateful that he has stepped forward to serve, and I look forward to welcoming him to our local delegation in the Texas House.” – Republican Legislative Campaign Committee Chairman and Texas Speaker Joe Straus. The RLCC is a legislative caucus within the RSLC and the only national organization exclusively dedicated to electing more Republicans to state legislatures.
“In a state as rich with diversity and character as Texas, it’s important to have an elected body that truly reflects the state and districts its members seek to serve. Understanding this need, I am thrilled to see the RSLC highlight John Lujan for this month’s special election in the 118th House District as a Race to Watch. He is a proven public servant and will serve his community diligently in Austin.” –Future Majority Project Chairman and Former Oklahoma Speaker T.W. Shannon. FMP is an initiative within the RSLC that seeks to identify, recruit and support state-level Republican candidates from all diverse communities.
“For years, a Republican majority has put Texas at the epicenter of economic growth and development in this country, and on January 26, we have an opportunity to grow the House Majority by one seat. John Lujan is the right candidate to win this Obama-blue district and help keep Texas on its pathway to success. It is an important Race to Watch, and we look forward to an exciting Election Day later this month. – RSLC President Matt Walter
Republicans currently hold 69 out of 99 state legislative chamber majorities across the country, including both chambers in Texas. Leading up to a pivotal 2016 election year, Republicans maintained all six legislative majorities up for election in 2015 and have since had Democrats switch parties to grow our Republican ranks in Arizona, Kentucky and Mississippi.
Lujan crashes the Democrats’ District 118 party
By Gilbert Garcia
November 3, 2015
For the past 18 years, Texas House District 118 has been controlled by two families.
For nine years, the South Side seat was held by Carlos Uresti, who stepped aside in 2006 to mount a successful bid for the state Senate. Since then, the district has been represented by former Harlandale school trustee Joe Farias.
In recent weeks, for the first time, we saw the two families duke it out, as Tomas Uresti, the senator’s older brother, vied with Farias’s son, Gabe.
Confronted with those two familiar names, South Side Democrats split their vote, allowing retired firefighter John Lujan, an IT business owner and Republican Party activist, to sneak into a special-election runoff.
Lujan’s breakthrough was the startling news from Tuesday night’s special election. It was all the more startling because it came nine years after he ran a distant third in a three-candidate GOP primary for the very same legislative seat.
His strong showing Tuesday might have been a shock to those who view District 118 as a reliably Democratic seat, but it was the product of a careful campaign strategy. In a race with three Democrats and three Republicans, Lujan sought to establish himself as the only credible GOP option.
That wasn’t too tough in a campaign that featured Robert Casias — the Somerset rancher who endlessly bloviated about the excesses of the federal government, but seemed to have little interest in the work of the Texas Legislature — and Michael Holdman — a Selma-based businessman who got his name on the ballot, raised only $350 in campaign donations, and hoped for the best.
Lujan shared the anti-choice, pro-guns, small-government agenda of Casias and Holdman, but, unlike them, he also had strong personal connections on the South Side.
The son of a retired minister and an elementary school principal, he built 30 years of good will with small measures: coaching Pop Warner football, lecturing students about technology and taking an active role in his church.
When I talked to him early in the campaign, he presciently cited his crossover vote potential on the South Side.
“We know a lot of the people that will cross over and vote for us,” Lujan said. “It takes the right candidate, if you’re a Republican and want to win it (in District 118), and I think that’s a Hispanic, like myself, and somebody from the South Side who’s going to take a lot of votes.”
His 25 years of experience with the fire department also enabled him to score an endorsement from the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, a union that would have ordinarily gravitated to one of the bigger names (Uresti or Farias) in the race.
Lujan’s coup also points to the fundamental weirdness of special elections. It’s a weirdness that Bexar County voters have been exposed to frequently this year.
In February, we saw Jose Menéndez dismantle fellow Democratic lawmaker Trey Martinez Fischer in a special-election runoff for state Senate. Martinez Fischer had stronger support from grassroots Democrats and probably would have won a primary election against Menéndez, but Menéndez put together the right bipartisan coalition for the special-election format.
Lujan’s path will be tough, because he can’t count on a split Democratic vote in a one-on-one runoff with Uresti. Also, Tuesday night was merely the beginning of a grueling year-long District 118 obstacle course that could require five election campaigns to get to the finish line: the special-election, a special-election runoff, the March primary, a possible primary runoff and next November’s general election.
There’s obvious bad blood between the Uresti and Farias camps. Farias supporters see the Urestis as arrogant, hardball politicians. Uresti loyalists privately hinted that Joe Farias’s resignation was timed to give his son a political leg-up on the competition. (The elder Farias recently stated that he’s been battling kidney failure, and had to resign out of concern for his health.)
It’s hard to imagine Farias endorsing Uresti in the special-election runoff, given that Farias might want to take on Uresti again in the March primary. That dynamic complicates an already weird special-election picture.
Even Lujan’s most optimistic supporters wouldn’t have bet a dollar on his chances in a typical District 118 general election. But all bets are off now.