House District 43 – A Potential Game-Changer in South Texas
By: Jason Byrd, Contributor
We at the Texan Post decided to preview the race for House District 43 between Republican J.M. Lozano and Yvonne Gonzalez Toureiles because we believe it could have a longstanding impact on the landscape of the Texas Legislature. In an area that has long been considered a Democratic stronghold, this race is considered by many experts to be a toss-up. While many Democrats consider the growing Hispanic population in the State to be a foregone conclusion that their party will eventually regain political control, this race could answer the question of whether or not a primarily Hispanic district can be won by a Republican.
Lozano, who was originally elected as a Democrat in 2010, announced his switch to the Republican Party in March of this year, citing that Democrats often bullied him for voting in the best interests of his district. While Lozano typically voted with Democrats on fiscal issues, he was consistently a social conservative, including his support of a new law requiring physicians to perform a sonogram before a woman can receive an abortion. Additionally, Lozano cites his support of the oil and gas industry, saying that he championed efforts to save jobs for many of his constituents who work for oil and gas companies along the Eagle Ford Shale.
After switching parties, Lozano immediately distanced himself from the Democratic Party in a successful effort to fend off a well-financed Republican primary opponent. In a race that Lozano won by only 500 votes, he ran this television ad criticizing President Barack Obama.
Toureilles, an attorney who served three terms in the Texas House before losing in the 2010 General Election, also characterizes herself as a public servant who puts the needs of constituents before the values of her party. She touts her support of property tax relief and her opposition to the business franchise tax as two successes of the Texas Legislature while she served. However, she draws stark contrast with her opponent on many social issues, including abortion. Toureilles believes that her record on women’s issues could drive women to vote for her and make the difference in the election. Toureilles has also gone on the attack, questioning Lozano’s machismo for complaining of being bullied by Democratic members of the Legislature.
The Republican Lozano has maintained a distinct edge in fundraising. In their reports filed 30 days before the election, Lozano had raised just over $300,000 and had $90,000 cash on hand, while Toureilles reported raising only $46,000 and retaining $11,500. Lozano’s largest donors include Texans For Lawsuit Reform, Associated Republicans of Texas, and homebuilder Bob Perry.
Despite the lopsided fundraising numbers, this nail-biter probably won’t be decided until late into election night. Lozano owns the fundraising advantage but Toureilles and Democrats have history in their favor. A victory for Toureilles would signal continued dominance in South Texas, while a victory for Lozano and the opportunity for a Republican to cultivate Hispanic voters in South Texas could result in continued Republican dominance of the Texas Legislature for the unforeseen future.
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