Houston District 145 early voting ends with low turnout
Early voting to fill state Sen. Carol Alvarado’s former seat in the Texas House ended Friday with just 1,528 ballots recorded, setting up what could be one of Texas’ lowest-attended special elections of the last few decades.
Registered voters in House District 145 now have one more chance to weigh in on their next representative in the Legislature’s lower chamber: Election Day is Tuesday, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The early voting tally is about 2 percent of the registered voters in the district, which runs from the Heights through downtown, along Interstate 45, to parts of Pasadena and South Houston.
ETHICS COMPLAINT ALLEGATION: JP candidate failed to report, repay campaign loans
The special election has drawn eight candidates: Elias De La Garza, Oscar Del Toro, Martha Fierro, Ruben Gonsalez, Clayton Hunt, Christina Morales, Alfred Moreno and Melissa Noriega.
Fierro is a Republican and Hunt is a Libertarian, while the other six candidates are Democrats.
Most observers expect a Democrat to win the district, which voted 67 to 29 percent for Hillary Clinton. With low turnout, though, Fierro could make a runoff between the top two candidates if nobody receives 50 percent of the vote Tuesday.
The most prolific fundraiser has been Morales, the CEO of a funeral home in the East End and a city planning commissioner. Through Saturday, she had raised more than $56,000, according to campaign finance reports.
She had raised another $9,000 or so by Wednesday, consultant Jaime Mercado said in an email.
Noriega, meanwhile, had raised about $25,000 through Saturday and loaned her campaign another $31,750. Morales had outspent her, about $35,000 to $30,000, while Noriega had slightly more cash on hand.
Noriega previously served on Houston City Council and briefly held the House District 145 seat while her then-husband and state Rep. Rick Noriega served in Afghanistan.
De La Garza, an insurance agent and a candidate for the seat in 2008, had spent $13,000. Fierro, from Jan. 1 to Jan. 19, had raised about $5,000 and had about $1,100 cash on hand. She spent about $9,000 in December, a portion of which came after her unsuccessful bid for Senate District 6.
The lowest turnout in a Texas legislative special election since at least 1992 occurred in May 2016, when state Rep. Jarvis Johnson won the House seat vacated by Mayor Sylvester Turner, according to Texas Election Source publisher Jeff Blaylock. That election drew 1,841 voters.