An appellate court vacancy connected to former judge Rudy Delgado’s arrest and eventual conviction on federal bribery charges has been settled by the voters.
Incumbent Jaime Tijerina, a Republican, beat Democrat Migdalia Lopez to keep his seat on Place 4 of the 13th Court of Appeals with 312,526 votes to Lopez’s 294,040 votes with approximately 52% of the vote to Lopez’s 48%.
The 13th Court of Appeals spans a 20-county region in the Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend and hears criminal and civil cases.
Lopez retired in early 2019 after a long tenure as the 197th state District Court judge in Cameron County.
She announced her bid for the spot on the 13th Court of Appeals later that year.
Tijerina did well in Cameron and Hidalgo counties, historically blue areas that saw a significant increase in Republican turnout in 2020.
While Lopez won both counties, Tijerina garnered 83,554 votes in Hidalgo County compared to Lopez’s 120,303. In Cameron County, Tijerina secured 42,155 votes to Lopez’s 66,532 votes.
Tijerina won in all of the other counties in the region except for Willacy County.
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Tijerina to the post on July 24, 2019, to fill the spot left vacant by Delgado, who resigned following his July 11, 2019, conviction on federal conspiracy, bribery and obstructing justice convictions.
He had been elected in 2018.
Tijerina had been appointed to the 93rd state District Court in 2018 to replace Delgado, who stepped down after being indicted.
Fernando Mancias, a Democrat, beat Republican Jennifer Morales, however, in November 2018 to fill out the unexpired term.
Tijerina was picked by the governor to fill that position from June to December 2018.
When Abbott appointed Tijerina to the appellate position that opened up the seat in the 464th state District Court.
The Texas Legislature created that court in 2017 and it opened for business in January 2019. Tijerina was appointed to that position by Abbott that month.
In August 2019, Abbott appointed Ysmael D. Fonseca, a McAllen attorney, to replace Tijerina in that court until December or until his successor is elected and qualified, which happened Tuesday night when Democrat Joe Ramirez easily beat Fonseca.
Ramirez secured 124,697 votes to Fonseca’s 74,848 votes, winning with approximately 62% of the vote compared to Fonseca’s 38%.
In other appellate court news, Nereida Lopez-Singleterry, a Democrat, faced off against Clarissa Silva, a Republican, for Place 6 on the 13th Court of Appeals.
Silva beat Lopez-Singleterry with 307,792 votes to 296,225 votes, winning with approximately 51% of the vote to Lopez-Singleterry’s 49%.
Both the Place 4 and Place 6 races in the 13th Court of Appeals mirrored each other.
Silva also saw strong Republican turnout in Hidalgo and Cameron counties. She garnered 44,748 votes in Cameron to Lopez-Singleterry’s 62,695 votes.
In Hidalgo, Silva claimed 74,902 votes to her Democrat opponent’s 128,637 votes.
And just like in the Place 4 race, Silva won in every other county in the 20-county region except for Willacy County.
Lopez-Singleterry previously worked as a litigator and had been an associate judge of the Title IV-D Court 1 in Hidalgo County where she heard cases the Texas Attorney General’s Office provided regarding Title IV of the Federal Social Security Act.
Silva is an assistant county attorney with the San Patricio County Attorney’s Office.
The women faced off to replace Justice Dori Contreras, who in January 2019, was sworn in as chief justice of the appellate court.