BROWNSVILLE, RGV – It is late in the day but Save RGV from LNG has made an in endorsement in the runoff for Texas House District 37.

Today is runoff election day and the two candidates in the runoff for District 37, which is centered in Brownsville, are veteran state Rep. René Oliveira and challenger Alex Dominguez.

Save RGV from LNG is endorsing Oliveira.

“SaveRGVfromLNG is endorsing René Oliveira because he opposes giving tax breaks to the LNG liquefaction/export terminals being proposed three miles from Port Isabel,” Jim Chapman, on behalf of the SaveRGVfromLNG Steering Committee, told the Rio Grande Guardian.

Jim Chapman

“Tax breaks are sometimes offered to companies to induce them to locate here as opposed to somewhere else. René understands that the LNG companies made their decisions to locate here four years ago, and should pay their fair share of taxes like everyone else. Alex Dominguez voted for giving tax breaks to Rio Grande LNG.”

There are three liquefied natural gas companies considering the construction of LNG export terminals at the Port of Brownsville. They have yet to secure environmental clearance. Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño voted against giving tax breaks to one of them, Rio Grande LNG. The four Cameron County commissioners, including Dominguez, voted in favor. The tax break was worth $373 million.

Here is what Save RGV from LNG said on its Facebook page:

You may have heard the rumors, and yes it is true. We have endorsed Rene Oliveira. If you have yet to vote, we encourage you to vote for Rene Oliveira, as he has:

1) Been very responsive to our inquiries for him to request public meetings with TCEQ. 

2) Rene has the clout to make public meetings with regulatory agencies happen at the snap of his fingers.

3) Rene Oliveira received an A from the Sierra Club’s legislative scorecard.

4) Has viewed the tax abatements to Rio Grande LNG as inappropriate.

His challenger Alex Dominguez:

1) Voted to give away $373 million bail-out tax abatement to Rio Grande LNG

2) Continues to defend the decision of the $373 million giveaway to Rio Grande LNG.

3) Has time and time again not represented his constituents on LNG and other local issues like the West Rail Trail.

In response to the endorsement, the Oliveira campaign posted a video on Oliveira’s Facebook page which said he “fights” for our environment.

“Rene has conditioned his support of LNG companies only if all health and safety standards are met,” the video states.

Whether the Save RGV from LNG endorsement will matter, coming as it has, just a day before the runoff election remains to be seen. At a recent Texas Municipal League meeting on South Padre Island, lobbyist Snapper Carr said runoff elections involving incumbents tend to break for the challenger.

In fact, only three incumbents have won in the last 28 runoff attempts, Carr said.

Carr, who represents the needs of local governments before the Texas Legislature and helps private-sector clients understand and navigate local government processes, did not speak directly about the Oliveira-Dominguez race.

Rather, he was giving an overview on what happens in runoff elections in Texas.

“In an open seat that is pushed to a runoff, it is often a tossup,” Carr told TML members from Region 12. “Incumbents, though, just by the numbers, do not fare well. In the last 28 elections, where an incumbent has been pushed to a runoff, the record is three and 25. That is a very significant situation for incumbents.”

Oliveira has held Brownsville-based District 37 since 1981. He is the fifth longest-serving member of the Texas House of Representatives and dean of the Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation. One of his proudest achievements was filing legislation to establish UT-Rio Grande Valley and its four-year school of medicine.

Dominguez has been Cameron County Commissioner for Precinct 2 since June 2014. A Brownsville native, Dominguez is a criminal defense attorney and former educator.

The Oliveira-Dominguez received greater attention, both from the media and the public, after the incumbent was arrested last month for Driving While Intoxicated.

District 37 includes Brownsville, South Padre Island, Port Isabel, Los Fresnos, and Rio Hondo.