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Unofficial results: Evelina Ortega ahead in State Rep. District 77 race

Lina Ortega

After months of campaigning, unofficial results have Evelina Ortega winning the Democratic primary in the District 77 race for state representative.

As of 9:30 p.m., Ortega edged out Adolfo Lopez 70.8 percent to 29.2 percent with six of 43 precincts reporting.

Unlike other races, this primary was a contest between two political newcomers after current state representative Marisa Marquez announced she would not seek reelection next year. The District 77 representative will serve more than 25 million constituents in El Paso County.

Ortega is an El Paso native who earned her undergraduate degree at UTEP then earned her law degree at the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, she works as a private practice lawyer in El Paso.

Ortega received several high-profile endorsements from U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, state Sen. Jose Rodriguez and state Rep. Joe Moody among others.

On her website, Ortega detailed a number of issues she would like to address as state representative including: promoting trade jobs, fighting anti-immigrant rhetoric, funding medical research, reforming minimum wage laws, providing affordable child care, expanding Medicaid coverage, supporting the Affordable Care Act, expanding free pre-kindergarten education for children and supporting a woman's right to choose among other things.

Ortega has also said she wants to put particular emphasis on continuing to revitalize downtown El Paso. To do this, Ortega wants to offer economic incentives to encourage businesses to move into downtown El Paso.

Marquez has served four terms as a state representative. During that time, she served on the House Committee on County Affairs, the House Appropriations Committee and the Appropriations Education Subcommittee.

In her announcement, Marquez said she helped increase government transparency, secured funding for Texas Tech and UTEP and helped reform housing and development in the state as well as the criminal justice and youth justice systems. She also helped bring a new visitor's center to El Paso and a new pharmacy school to UTEP.

The District 77 race is just one of 16 seats up for grabs in the Texas House for freshmen. All 150 seats are up for election. However, the majority of the races involve incumbents. This year, more of those incumbents are facing primary challengers than in previous years. Some 42 incumbents are facing challengers, including 31 Republicans.

The Texas House is dominated by the right wing with 99 Republicans currently serving and 49 Democrats (two seats are vacant). This means that once she takes over for Marquez she will have an uphill battle alongside fellow Democrats in Austin.

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