The race to replace retiring state Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) has drawn a large field of candidates. Fifteen people have filed to run in the special election for State House District 148.
When the deadline passed on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 12 Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent had filed the necessary paperwork with the Texas Secretary of State’s office.
The Democratic side of the ballot will have Michele Leal. Leal is a consultant for EnFocus Group, an organization that works to bridge gaps in LGBTQ inclusive workplace cultures. She was also a member of Latin Women’s Initiative’s board of directors, the co-chair of the Latino Texas PAC, and serves on Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hispanic Advisory Board.
Another candidate on the ballot is Adrian Garcia. Not Harris County’s Precinct 2 Commissioner, but a paralegal who shares the same name.
Also on the ballot is Kendra Yarborough Camarena, a former candidate for House District 138 and a teacher. Yarborough Camarena isn’t the only candidate with a strong education background.
Anna Eastman, a former HISD board president, is also on the ballot. Eastman held the District 1 seat from 2010-18. Before entering politics, Eastman was the lead social worker for Communities in Schools in San Antonio.
Additionally, she and her husband co-founded the 11½ Street Foundation — which recognizes outstanding veteran teachers with monetary awards.
The race has drawn former candidates from two other former races. One of the candidates with previous campaigning experience is Mia Mundy, a former candidate in the December 2018 Senate District 6 special election. Penny Shaw who was a Democratic candidate in the race for Harris County Precinct 4 commissioner.
The candidates without any previous political experience include Terah Isaacson, a general surgeon with a specialty in abdominal diseases and Carol Denson, a teacher.
Also on the ballot is Houston firefighter Rob Block. In addition to being a firefighter, Block worked for a variety of Houston nonprofits including Texans Together, Avenue CDC, The Greater Northside Management District and the South East Houston Transformation Alliance.
Also with non-profit experience is candidate Anna Núñez, who served primarily as a community relations and public affairs professional. She is currently a Special Programs Coordinator for the UT Health Science Center and previously was the Communication Coordinator for the ACLU of Texas.
Watt is a partner at the Houston office of Reed Smith, a global corporate law firm. Watt specializes in commercial litigation matters, specifically in the areas of construction, energy and natural resources, professional services and healthcare
One of the two Republicans on the ballot is Ryan McConnico. McConnico lost to Farrar in 2018, he’s pro-fossil fuels and is opposed to the Houston to Dallas bullet train.
The other Republican is Luis La Rotta, a U.S. Navy veteran who is opposed to the expansion of Medicaid.
The independent is Chris Carmona, a civil practice attorney who challenged Farrar in 2014 as a Republican. Despite having both a campaign website and a Facebook page, Carmona hasn’t issued any policy statements.
Because the race is a nonpartisan, blanket election — a.k.a. a jungle election — all the candidates will appear on the ballot together. Because all the candidates are running at the same time, the race is a first-past-the-post election, which means that a candidate needs at least 51 percent of the vote to win.
Should no candidate receives a plurality of the vote, the two candidates with the most votes will go into a runoff election.
Early voting begins on Oct. 21 and Election Day is Nov. 5. which means that the candidates have just over two months to make their case to the voters.