Texas Orders Emergency Election to Replace Convicted Democrat State Senator

Texas Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio. right, leaves the federal courthouse for a hearing, Monday, July 10, 2017, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP File Photo/Eric Gay

Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for an emergency special election to replace San Antonio Democrat State Senator Carlos Uresti, who resigned this week following 11 federal convictions for fraud and money laundering.

On Wednesday, the governor issued a proclamation ordering the special election to fill the seat now left vacant by Uresti in state Senate District 19. Abbott set a July 31 date for the special election. Early voting will begin on July 16. Candidates have until the close of business on Monday, June 25, to file for the race.

Uresti announced his resignation on Monday. It goes into effect Thursday. Breitbart Texas reported that, in his resignation letter, Uresti asked Abbott to schedule the special election to coincide with the November 2018 General Election to save District 19 taxpayers money on additional costs.

However, the governor’s proclamation explained that Uresti’s longstanding legal woes already left District 19 “without effective representation” for more than a year.

“The indictment and ultimate conviction of Senator Uresti for fraud and money laundering has already left District 19 without effective representation in the Texas Senate for over a year,” said Abbott in a written statement. “With the 86th Legislative Session approaching, and ongoing interim legislative committee hearings, it is imperative to fill this vacancy to ensure that Senate District No. 18 is fully represented as soon as possible.”

So far, two San Antonio Democrats, state Representative Roland Gutierrez and former U.S. Representative Pete Gallego, voiced their intentions to run in the special election to serve out the remainder of Uresti’s term. It is slated to end in 2021. On Tuesday, Republican Pete Flores, a retired Texas Game Warden Colonel who lost to Uresti in 2016, announced his campaign for the special election.

State Senate District 19 is a formidable jurisdiction, spanning 17 counties from San Antonio through the Big Bend region and onto the New Mexico line.

Breitbart Texas reported that Uresti was found guilty on the 11 fraud-related felony charges in February. After the conviction, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick removed Uresti from his committee assignments in the Senate. Leaders on both sides of the aisle called for his resignation. Uresti refused to do, although pressure from Texas Democrats mounted. The disgraced senator finally resigned Monday, four months after his felony convictions.

Uresti was first elected to serve Texas Senate District 19 in 2006. San Antonio voters reelected him in 2016. Previously, he served in the Texas State House of Representatives from 1997 to 2006.

Last year, Uresti was indicted on the wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering charges. Breitbart Texas reported the indictments, in part, charged that Uresti and other associates developed a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors in the hydraulic fracking sand oil production business. The group used a company called Four Winds to sell the sand. The defendants then used funds from newer investors to pay earlier investors and their own personal expenses.

Uresti faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the wire fraud convictions and 1o years for the money laundering convictions. Reportedly, he may also have to pay more than $3 million in restitution.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.

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