AP NEWS

Morales, Noriega lead in House District 145 special election

January 30, 2019

Democrats Christina Morales and Melissa Noriega appeared headed for a runoff in the special election Tuesday to fill state Sen. Carol Alvarado’s seat in the Texas House.

Early voting and absentee ballot totals showed Morales, a city planning commissioner and the CEO of an East End funeral home, leading Noriega by a few percentage points, though neither candidate was within striking distance of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

Republican Martha Fierro was a distant third among the eight candidates vying for the seat in Texas House District 145.

Fewer than 1,600 voters cast ballots early and by mail.

Noriega, a former Houston City Council member, is seeking the seat she briefly filled in 2005, when her then-husband and the seat’s occupant, Rick Noriega, was deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the Texas Army National Guard. Noriega, then a special projects manager for Houston ISD, filled in under a state constitutional amendment allowing legislators to designate their replacements when called to active duty.

During the abbreviated campaign, she has emphasized her experience in politics and education, arguing that she is best suited to join the fray in Austin amid an ongoing legislative session.

Morales, meanwhile, has run on her deep ties to the community built from running her family’s long-standing funeral business. She also has reprised much of Alvarado’s campaign team from the special election for Senate District 6, which overlaps with the House district.

“I definitely feel like I’m well connected to the constituents of District 145,” she told the Chronicle after filing for the election. “I know them intimately, especially through my business.”

Fierro, a precinct chair for the Harris County Republican Party and the lone GOP candidate, had sought an upset victory in the blue-leaning district after also coming up short in the Senate District 6 election.

Five other candidates — Elias De La Garza, Oscar Del Toro, Ruben Gonsalez, Clayton Hunt and Alfred Moreno — also ran for the seat, combining for about 10 percent of the early vote.

The district runs from the Heights through downtown, along Interstate 45, to parts of Pasadena and South Houston.

If Morales or Noriega do not break 50 percent Tuesday, it will be up to Gov. Greg Abbott to schedule a date for the runoff.

jasper.scherer@chron.com

twitter.com/jaspscherer

AP RADIO
Update hourly