Former small-town journalist, college director of development and Gonzales Economic Development Corporation board member S.H. “Steve” Sucher was elected mayor of Gonzales as he narrowly defeated business owner and college athletics recruiter Isaac Anzaldua, 544-493, in complete but unofficial returns.
Meanwhile, in the emergency special election for U.S. House District 34, Republican Mayra Flores avoided a runoff election and turned a blue seat red as she defeated three other candidates to fill out an unexpired term.
The Gonzales City Council still must meet in special session on Tuesday, June 21, to canvass the final vote from the Tuesday, June 14, runoff before the outcome becomes official. The election cannot be canvassed earlier than the third day after the election, nor later than the 11th day.
Sucher held a 363-307 lead after absentee and early votes were counted. Sucher received 32 absentee ballots and 331 early votes, while Anzaldua received 18 absentee votes and 289 early votes. On election day, Anzaldua received 186 votes, while Sucher received 181.
“I want to thank the people of Gonzales who supported my bid for office, and compliment Mr. Anzuldua as a champion of the community who put on a great campaign of his own,” Sucher said. “I am humbled by, and grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Gonzales. I look forward to getting around the city to make more acquaintances, and to working with each and every one of you. Here's to our town, and to good things to come!”
“I want to thank the citizens of Gonzales for coming out to vote and take part in the election,” Anzaldua said. “It is with great pride that I will continue to serve our City and support this amazing community. Our campaign was run with dignity, professionalism and respect at all times and I thank all that helped us along the way. Special thanks to my family for having the strength and courage to take the journey with me. And to Gonzales I simply say Thank You!”
Anzaldua's mother passed away the day after the election. He had been spending a lot of his time with her at the same time he was campaigning and running his Luling business.
“I’d like to take time to congratulate Steve Sucher on his victory and to thank all who voted in this election,” said Todd Bright, the third candidate in the May 7 race, who did not qualify for the runoff. “Steve is a good man and will serve all citizens of Gonzales equally and with humility.”
The U.S. House District 34 race started with four candidates but quickly turned into a two-person affair. Flores — a respiratory care practitioner from Los Indios who won the Republican primary in March for the seat and will also be on the general election ballot — won with 14,780 votes, including 7,516 in early voting, taking 50.98 percent and avoiding a runoff by just 285 votes.
Democrat Dan Sanchez, a Harlingen attorney, meanwhile, had 12,560 votes (7,267 early) for 43.33 percent. He conceded the race to Flores late Tuesday night.
Democrat Rene Coronado, a city civil service director from Harlingen, had 1,199 votes (845 early), or 4.14 percent, while Juana “Janie” Cantu-Cabrera, a nurse practitioner working in forensics and public health, had just 451 (247 early), or 1.56 percent.
Gov. Greg Abbott called for an emergency special election for the unexpired term of District 34 U.S. Rep. Filemon B. Vela, who resigned March 31 from Congress after announcing last year he would be retiring from the House of Representatives. Vela, a Democrat, has taken a job with the prominent law and lobbying firm of Akin Gump.
District 34 currently covers about 31 percent of Gonzales County, including Nixon, Smiley and Belmont; 32 percent of San Patricio County; 14 percent of Hidalgo County; and all of Bee, Cameron, DeWitt, Goliad, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg and Willacy counties.
Flores will serve out the remainder of Vela’s term until January, when the winner of the general election will take office. After Jan. 2, 2023, Gonzales County will be served entirely by District 27.
U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez Jr., who currently represents District 15, won the Democratic primary for District 34 in March and will be on the general election ballot against Flores. He is running in District 34 due to redistricting.