Voters in Tuesday’s Democratic primary runoff in Texas State Senate District 27 will choose either an LGBTQ+ ally or an anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ+ candidate who’s been described as Texas Republicans’ favorite Democrat.
Sara Stapleton-Barrera, a constitutional lawyer and former teacher, is trying to unseat Eddie Lucio Jr., a state senator since 1991. Lucio has supported restrictions on public restroom use by transgender people — he was the only Democrat to vote for the state’s infamous and failed “bathroom bill” of 2017 — and has described marriage equality as “the end of the family.” He was also the only Dem to support a bill restricting abortions that then-Sen. Wendy Davis filibustered against for 11 hours in 2013. And he’s the only Texas Democrat to be endorsed by Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ ultraconservative political action group.
Stapleton-Barrera, a straight woman, has promised to be a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ Texans; among other things, she has pledged to support a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill in the state. “We obviously need an advocate in the Senate,” Angela Hale, senior adviser to Equity PAC, said in a recent Zoom press conference organized by the Human Rights Campaign.
On her website, Stapleton-Barrera expresses support for LGBTQ+ equality, boosts in teacher pay and the minimum wage, quality health care for all Texans (including reproductive health care), paid parental leave, immigrants’ rights, clean energy, and equal pay for equal work.
Stapleton-Barrera has the backing of Equity PAC, which is the political action arm of Equality Texas, along with HRC PAC, environmental groups, and reproductive rights groups. At 36, she would be Texas’s youngest state senator.
District 27 is in southeastern Texas along the Gulf Coast and is largely Latinx and heavily Democratic. In the Democratic primary March 3, Lucio and Stapleton-Barrera were the top two finishers, with 49.8 percent and 35.6 percent of the vote respectively. Since neither one had more than 50 percent, they moved to a runoff under Texas law. The winner of the runoff will face Republican Vanessa Tijerina in November.
HRC has released English and Spanish versions of ads supporting Stapleton-Barrera over Lucio. Watch both below.