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So Much for Those Travis Republican Districts

By Lee Nichols, 10:36PM, Tue. Nov. 7, 2006

In the 2001 Lege redistricting, an extra district was carved into Travis County, increasing our delegation from five seats to six, with three specifically shaped to elect Republicans. Our representation went from four Dems, one Republican, to a 3-3 split, an appalling situation in True Blue Travis.

It's looking like those GOP gains could be completely rolled back tonight, mainly due to Travis voters' anger over the Republicans' attempts to completely dismantle the public education system in Texas.

The most crucial race of the previously R seats is Dist. 47 (southwest Travis); with 34 of 46 precincts reporting (and all of early voting counted), Democrat Valinda Bolton leads Bill Welch 50.11%-45.84%. It'll be tough for Welch to make up almost 2,000 votes in those last 12 boxes. I'm calling this for Bolton.

In Dist. 50, Dem Mark Strama narrowly unseated Jack Stick two years ago, and solidified his hold this year: He's leading Jeff Fleece 62%-33%.

In Dist. 48, after Republican Todd Baxter barely held onto his office in 2004, either he or GOP shot-callers decided he should step down and Dem Donna Howard easily took the seat in a special election this spring. After Ben Bentzin's incompetent campaign in that race, he completely withdrew from tonight's contest, leaving Howard with only Libertarian competition. She has 78% so far.

And of course, Elliott Naishtat, Dawnna Dukes, and Eddie Rodriguez – with only Libertarian opponents – are cruising to victory.

The message? Don't Mess With Texas Schools … at least not in Travis County.

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