An Anti-Incumbent Mood for Democrats

Five House Democrats were either beat or forced into runoffs Tuesday.

René Oliveira, Trey Martinez Fischer, Roberto Alonzo, Dawnna Dukes
René Oliveira, Trey Martinez Fischer, Roberto Alonzo, Dawnna Dukes Courtesy/Sam DeGrave, Twitter, Facebook

A surprising number of incumbent House Democrats lost tonight, or are headed to runoffs. Here’s a run-down of five races where we saw upsets tonight:

—Dawnna Dukes, who has long represented a rapidly gentrifying East Austin district, managed just 10 percent tonight, handily losing to former City Council member Sheryl Cole and immigration attorney José “Chito” Vela. Cole and Vela now head to a runoff. Dukes has been in the local news for years for her chronic absenteeism at the Capitol, criminal indictments for abuse of office (she was later cleared of charges) and run-ins with standing desks.

—René Oliveira is going to a runoff with Cameron County Commissioner Alex Dominguez. As Gus Bova recently reported, Oliveira’s two challengers hammered the 17-term incumbent for doing little to bring jobs and education to the Brownsville-area district.

—Roberto Alonzo, who’s held the Dallas seat since 1992, lost in a landslide to Jessica Gonzalez, a 37-year-old attorney. Alonzo was known as a perennial backbencher.

—Trey Martinez Fischer narrowly bested Diana Arévalo in this San Antonio district. Arévalo had served just a single term before TMF, as he’s known, decided to make his path back to the Legislature, where he previously served for 16 years, right through Arévalo’s incumbency. TMF had tried to move up to the Senate but lost twice to José Menéndez. But TMF is a consummate brawler, an almost comically intense tactician at the Lege. Arévalo was simply a casualty of his need to get back in The Game.

—Tomas Uresti… we barely knew you. Uresti lost to the little-known Leo Pacheco. Though Uresti was known in the Lege as a bit of a dud, his biggest liability may be his name. The Uresti family is well-known in San Antonio, and while that used to be a good thing, it probably didn’t help Tomas’ career that his brother, Senator Carlos Uresti, was recently convicted of 11 felony fraud charges; is facing another criminal trial for bribery and conspiracy and money laundering related to a disastrously-run private prison for immigrants in West Texas; and has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct.

Forrest Wilder, a native of Wimberley, Texas, is the editor of the Observer.

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Published at 1:22 am CST