San Antonio, TX Local 624 retiree John Lujan defeated Democrat Tomas Uresti in a special election for Texas House of Representatives District 118 on January 25. Defeating Uresti 52.38 percent to 47.62 percent in a historically Democratic district, Lujan emerged as the surprise Republican underdog in the race.
>When Lujan retired three years ago, he had grown tired of the same people winning the same elections, year after year. He complained to Local 624 President Chris Steele. “As a Republican, I didn’t feel like we had any representation when it came down to it,” says Lujan. Steele made a simple suggestion that Lujan took seriously: “So do something about it.”
When the current state representative — Democrat Joe Farias — resigned early, Lujan made his move. He had graduated from the IAFF Political Training Academy almost a decade ago, having always taken interest in politics at the local level.
“I took out my old books and training manuals, wiped the dust off and started studying how to win,” says Lujan. With the help of his two sons, John Jr. (30) and Jacob (26), he began his campaign.
“The Political Training Academy was absolutely instrumental in this win,” says Lujan. “It was really amazing because I had the support of all of my old classmates, from Maine to California. They were Facebooking and tweeting their support throughout the whole thing.”
Although Lujan emerged as one of the front runners in the initial election against Uresti, many believed that was as far as he was going to get. “I didn’t consider placing in the top three a win,” he says. “I wanted to take this thing to the end.”
He adds, “A lot of people were giving me all sorts of advice, but I really measured it all against what I had learned in the Political Training Academy. If it didn’t match up, I didn’t use it.”
The final election for District 118 came down to a dead heat between the highly favored Democrat Uresti and Lujan, a newcomer to the political scene. “I think people saw what a good guy Lujan was,” says Steele. “They saw past party lines and knew he would stand up and get their issues heard.”
Lujan is excited about the win and ready to move on. “Now it’s time for me to show them what I’ve got, to really make some changes for the district,” he says.