John Lujan, a Republican, Narrowly Flipped a State House Seat in San Antonio

John Lujan, a 59-year-old retired firefighter, won the seat, a blow for Democrats in the Texas city.


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A Republican narrowly flipped a State House seat in San Antonio.

John Lujan, a Republican and a retired firefighter, won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday.Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

By Edgar Sandoval and James Dobbins

Nov. 3, 2021, 7:27 a.m. ET

SAN ANTONIO — A Democratic stronghold in San Antonio flipped to a Republican in a runoff on Tuesday, further eroding a Latino electorate that until recently favored Democrats.

John Lujan, a 59-year-old retired firefighter who had briefly held the State House seat before, beat Frank Ramirez, a 27-year-old former legislative aide, by fewer than 300 votes, according to a tally released by the Bexar County Elections Department.

Mr. Ramirez conceded late Tuesday in a blow for Democrats in San Antonio, a majority Latino metropolis 150 miles north of the Mexican border that is known for its deep Mexican American roots. About 70 percent of the largely working-class families in the 118th District identify as Hispanic.

To cheers from his supporters at PicaPica Plaza, Mr. Lujan said the result showed that his platform of public safety, border security and job creation was appealing to Latinos.

“This speaks loudly that people are concerned about conservative values,” he said. “You know, we want to secure our border, we want to grow our economy.”

After none of the three Democrats and two Republicans who ran in the special election in September received a majority of votes, Mr. Lujan delivered a seat critical to the Republican Party’s efforts to make inroads in South Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott and Dade Phelan, the speaker of the House, both called to congratulate him on Tuesday night.

Mr. Ramirez, who has served as a chief of staff in the district and as a zoning and planning director for a San Antonio councilwoman, ran on a campaign to increase investments in public education, fixing aging infrastructure and offering property tax relief. But in the end it was not enough.

“The resilience of the South Side can’t be underestimated,” he said after conceding the race. “We’ll be back.”

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