History was made today in the Texas Senate chamber as Pete Flores, a retired game warden from South Texas, was sworn in as the state’s first Hispanic Republican State Senator.
Flores won the seat in a special election last month in a surprise victory that surprised political onlookers statewide. Many had written off Flores’ hopes of winning the seat. However, Flores ran an aggressive campaign matched by a surge of grassroots energy in the district. Add to that the support of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and Flores ultimately carried the day.
Previously occupied by Democrat State Sen. Carlos Uresti—who was forced to resign from office after being convicted of several federal crimes and sentenced to prison—Senate District 19 had not been held by a Republican since Reconstruction.
At the ceremony—which was heavily attended by Flores’ friends, family, supporters, and several of his new Senate colleagues—speakers took turns praising the new lawmaker, including Patrick who presented Flores with an engraved gavel commemorating the historic occasion.
“I’m so proud of you,” Patrick said of Flores. “You worked so hard for so many years as a public servant…and so hard campaigning to win this seat. Pete, like all of us in Texas, we have the DNA of Bowie and Crockett and it means we never quit.”
Flores indeed worked hard for his victory, putting 7,000 miles on his truck in a matter of weeks as he travelled the massive district which stretches from San Antonio out west to Alpine.
After taking the oath, administered by Atascosa County Judge Robert Hurley, Flores addressed attendees pledging to serve with total accountability to the constituents whom he represents while in office.
“The beauty of our constitutional Republic is that we recognize that those of who have the privilege to serve here are not your bosses,” stated Flores. “You’re the boss. We know that in this state and in this country and we look forward to serving you, the boss, to make things better for you, working together in senate district 19 and across the state as we move forward.”
“You’re the most powerful person on earth, the American voter,” he continued.
While the ceremony was light on policy discussions, Flores did mention that he looks forward to working with Patrick and the Senate to pass property tax reform during the next session, which received vigorous applause from those in attendance.
Flores also said that he would like to work to make Texas communities safer and strengthen the state’s energy economy. Flores will hold the seat for two years before his next re-election campaign in 2020.