Democrat Mario Gallegos won re-election to his Texas state Senate seat on Tuesday. Gallegos, who had served since 1994, overwhelmingly beat his challenger, Republican newcomer, R.W. Bray. But the victory is, to say the least, bittersweet.
Sen. Gallegos won his re-election bid three weeks after his death.
Gallegos died on October 16 of complications related to liver disease, but his family kept a close eye on the election results in hope of keeping his seat Democratic.
Theresa Gallegos, Gallegos’s widow, told ABC News that the family felt compelled to proceed with his election because, as she said, “It was his legacy, first of all. He worked so hard for his community and we were all involved in his work.”
“He … instilled in us all of his hard work and he fought so hard to keep that seat Democratic,” she said. Sen. Gallegos served as a Democrat in the 6th District of the Texas Senate, in a primarily red state.
The re-election of Gallegos has prompted Texas Gov. Rick Perry to schedule a special election sometime in December.
According to Theresa Gallegos, it was her husband’s wish to have Texas State Representative Carol Alvarado succeed him. She tells ABC News that Alvarado has expressed interest in serving in the Democratic senatorial seat.
“He talked about it many times. [Mario] asked that we as a family try to endorse her and help her continue on to the senate seat. They both had the same goals and [Mario] believed that she would continue his work.”
Rep. Alvarado did not respond to requests for an interview with ABC News.
Though unusual, the posthumous election of a politician is not unheard of. In 2000, the late Gov. Mel Carnahan beat out incumbent Republican Sen. John Ashcroft for a U.S. Senate seat from Missouri. Carnahan’s widow, Jean, became the unofficial Democratic candidate, and was appointed to the Senate seat by then-Missouri Gov. Roger Wilson.
Carnahan died in a plane crash a few weeks before the November election. By coincidence, both Gallegos and Carnahan died on October 16.