HOUSTON - Former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia defeated fellow Democrat, state Rep. Carol Alvarado, on Saturday in the runoff election to fill the seat of the late state Sen. Mario Gallegos.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Garcia had about 53 percent of the votes compared to Alvarado's about 47 percent.
Both candidates raised and spent more than $1 million campaigning to represent the predominantly Hispanic district in Houston.
Garcia and Alvarado hit the streets Saturday, campaigning for last-minute votes in the State Senate District 6 election.
The election is to fill the seat held by Mario Gallegos, who died in October.
Both candidates have a history of community leadership and holding elected office. But State Rep. Alvarado and Former Harris County Commissioner Garcia said this runoff election is about contrasting styles.
"In addition to the depth and breadth of experience, it really is about who will be the fighter in Austin to fight Rick Perry on the issues that really matter," said Garcia.
"Being able to work across party lines I think is very important, because at the end of the day, you want to be effective and get something done," said Alvarado. "You want to produce results for the people you represent."
Alvarado believes her experience in the legislature gives her the advantage of being able to file bills to fight on behalf of the district. As she makes calls to voters, she said she keeps a picture of Gallegos, whose family has endorsed her.
"I think having a better relationship with the community, being visible and being consistently engaged with the community in my 10 years of elected office, I think people recognize that," said Alvarado. "Whether they agree or disagree with me, people know they can count on me to show up to be there for our senior citizens, kids, schools."
The runoff race has been marked by negative campaigning on both sides, and both candidates have spent a great deal of money. The focus is getting their supporters to the polls.
In January, Garcia won about 45.4 percent of the first-round vote, beating Alvarado by nearly four percentage points, or about 600 votes. Republican R.W. Bray, the candidate Gallegos defeated in November, was a distant third with around 6 percent of the vote.
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