BROWNSVILLE, Texas – State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., has defended the right of Morgan LaMantia’s family to loan millions of dollars to her election campaign.

LaMantia, a Democrat, is hoping to succeed Lucio as state senator for District 27. Lucio has endorsed her. 

Asked if LaMantia’s family members were trying to buy the Senate seat for her, Lucio said: “We all get support from our families. It can be at different levels, monetarily, because of our different economic situations. Instead of a $500 check it can be a $5,000 check.”

By some estimates, the LaMantia family may thus far have loaned $3.3 million to the Morgan LaMantia for Senate campaign.

“We cannot hold it against her for what her grandfather and other family members did before her, establishing themselves as strong business people here in the Valley. Why should we pull them down?” Lucio said.

The LaMantia family is one of the wealthiest families in the region. It owns L&F Distributors, which distributes Budweiser beer throughout South Texas.

“If Morgan can play a good part in the process and be a good senator, so much the better. It is not over yet. I see it as pretty close. And there is a candidate on the Republican side that I hear is working hard too.”

State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.

Lucio made his comments in an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian about the candidates he is endorsing in the current primary election runoffs. He is endorsing LaMantia over her Democratic Party opponent, Sara Stapleton Barrera. He is endorsing Congressman Henry Cuellar over his Congressional District 28 runoff election opponent Jessica Cisneros. He is endorsing Luis Villarreal over Ruben Cortez in the runoff for the open Texas House District 37 race. And he is endorsing Victor Perez over Pete Garcia in the open State Board of Education District 2 runoff election.

Lucio said he would have been happy to have played a stronger role in helping LaMantia’s election campaign. “They only had to ask,” he said. “For me, I am returning the favor because Morgan’s grandfather, Joe, supported me when I first ran for office.” Lucio said education should be the No. 1 issue in the SD 27 race.

Lucio also commented on claims that LaMantia has not lived in Senate District 27 long enough. A state senate candidate must have lived in the district for a year before the general election. LaMantia’s critics say she was claiming a homestead exemption on her home in McAllen up until the end of 2021. That is less than a year before the general election. 

The McAllen home is not in District 27. When LaMantia filed to run she listed her residency as South Padre Island, which is in District 27. 

Asked about this, Lucio said: “There is a proper way of going about that. You file a complaint. You file a grievance. You challenge the residency at the state level. There are steps you can take to find out whether she violated any laws or rules or regulations. If she did, obviously, she has to answer for them. But, I am not aware of any of that.”

LaMantia issued this statement about the residency issue:

“My opponents, both during the primary and during the runoff, have used the same rhetoric saying that I have only lived in this district for six months and that I’m not from here. That is simply not the case. It’s a weak attempt to try to distract the voters from what really matters… and that’s learning and hearing about a candidate that knows how to get things done and wants to be an advocate for the entirety of South Texas. 

“I was born in the Valley. I grew up in Laredo and my family has done business throughout this district for decades. After I graduated from law school, I moved to South Padre Island and practiced for a private law firm in Brownsville for five years before I joined the family business as general counsel. 

“If my opponent wants to continue to talk about falsities on her soapbox, that’s fine by me. I’ve been busy learning and talking with constituents of this district every single day, and I am ready to get to work.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Morgan LaMantia at a recent candidate debate that was hosted by the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and held in Harlingen, Texas.

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