State lawmakers are remembering a longtime state Senator who they said was firm in his beliefs and resolute in his spirit. Democratic Sen. Mario Gallegos, Jr. of Houston, who served close to 22 years in the legislature, died Tuesday from complications from a liver transplant. "Capital Tonight's" Harold Cook, who serves as a spokesperson for the family, said Gallegos was surrounded by his family in a Houston hospital. He was 62.
Gallegos is well known for returning to the State Capitol shortly after his liver transplant in 2007 to vote against a voter ID law.
"He ignored a doctor’s call to return to Houston for treatment and remained in Austin and the Capitol, often in a hospital bed off the Senate floor, to fight and prevent legislation that would screen and suppress the votes and voices of the people Mario protected. He stopped that legislation that year, and its subsequent passage doesn’t lessen his heroism –it reinforces it," the Democratic Caucus wrote in a press release.
Republican lawmakers are also remembering Gallegos, especially his devotion to his constituents and his family.
"Senator Mario Gallegos was a devoted public servant who proudly represented the people of Senate District 6 for the last 17 years. I've seen with my own eyes the love and friendship lavished upon him by his family, friends and fellow firefighters. He was a friend and colleague to all the Senators and myself, and he will be dearly missed by all of us. Tricia and I send our deepest condolences to his wife, Theresa, and the entire Gallegos family. They will be in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time," Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said in a press release.
Governor Perry ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff.
"Whether serving as a firefighter, championing his beloved University of Houston or representing the interests of his constituents in the Texas Legislature, Sen. Gallegos led a life of serving the public. Anita and I send our condolences and prayers to his family and friends during this difficult time," Gov. Perry said in a statement.
Services for the Senator are pending. He will be buried in Houston. Gallegos was running against Republican R.W. Bray in the November general election. It is too late to remove his name from the ballot, and should he win a special election will be called by the governor.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.