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Bolton Gives Dems a Clean Travis Sweep

By Michael King, 12:15AM, Wed. Nov. 8, 2006

The Travis County Republican Party's "No Blue Dot" campaign (referring to Travis County's tendency to appear as a blue Democratic Dot on Republican red Texas election maps) has failed miserably.

It took until nearly midnight, but with all 46 precincts reporting, Democrat Valinda Bolton has defeated Republican Bill Welch in state House Dist. 47, at a stroke replacing retiring incumbent GOP Rep. Terry Keel and turning the Travis Co. House delegation solid blue. "People are so hungry for change," Bolton had said a few hours earlier, at the Democratic Party election headquarters at the Stephen F. Austin hotel. Reached again by phone just after the final returns were released by the Travis Co. Clerk, Bolton said, "I'm excited, I'm enthusiastic, and I'm just beginning to realize that a whole new phase of my life is about to begin."

Bolton credited her message "of bringing a positive change" for her victory, and her emphasis on the importance of public education. But she immediately added, referring to the national shift to the Democrats, "I'm also aware that a current of change is in the air that's way larger than this district."

By the numbers, Bolton entered the day with an early vote lead of 49.9% to Welch's 46.9%, and stayed steadily ahead, and by evening's end she had increased that percentage slightly (50.24%). But her margin had lengthened because Welch's percentage actually dropped to 45.52% – the difference being the 2,243 votes won by Libertarian candidate Yvonne Schick, who ended the night with 4.24% of the overall vote. Bolton acknowledged that the Libertarian vote likely helped her, because "the Libertarian votes do tend to come from disaffected Republicans, or from people who would otherwise not vote at all."

Earlier in the day, Welch campaign manager Ryan Bohls told the Chronicle that while he was optimistic about the "broad-based support" Welch had received across the district, he would not venture a prediction. Late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, the Welch campaign did not return calls requesting comment on the outcome of the election.

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