State Sen. Mario Gallegos Jr. dies

HOUSTON - State Sen. Mario Gallegos Jr. passed away on Tuesday afternoon.

According to a spokesperson for Gallegos, he died at Methodist Hospital from complications associated with a 2007 liver transplant.

Gallegos represented Senate District 6 since 1995. He was the first Hispanic senator to serve Harris County. Prior to that, he served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives.

State Representative Carol Alvarado said, "He never backed down from a fight. Mario loved his constituents and loved representing Dist. 6."

State Senator Leticia Van de Putte said, "He never forgot the people that he represented. Even when big special interests were trying to convince him otherwise."

Before becoming involved in politics, Gallegos spent 22 years in the Houston Fire Department.

His life in the spotlight wasn't always rosy. In 2004, he faced two lawsuits. One was from a constituent and another was from a woman who claimed to have had a 17-year long affair with him.

In 2006, Gallegos announced that he was being treated for alcoholism. In 2007, he was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and lost about 150 pounds.

Gallegos received a liver transplant in 2007 after a north Texas teenager died from a heart condition. He had a hospital bed put in the capitol building during his recovery so he could be there to prevent discussion of the controversial Voter ID bill.

"I had already filled out how I wanted my funeral," Gallegos said in 2009, two years after he received the transplant. "My Monsignor came in and gave me the last rites. That's how close I was."

Gallegos, 62, was surrounded by his family when he passed away. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, son and five grandchildren.

Gallegos was running for re-election in November against Republican R.W. Bray. It is too late for Gallegos to be removed from the ballot. If he wins, the governor would have to schedule a special election to replace him.

Gov. Rick Perry has ordered that flags on state property be lowered to half staff Wednesday through Friday and on the day of his funeral to honor Gallegos.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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