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House District 50 Heading to Run Off

Update: VanDeWalle, Israel head to Pyrrhic second round

By Richard Whittaker, 9:52PM, Tue. Nov. 5, 2013

And then there were two: Republican Mike VanDeWalle and Democrat Celia Israel head into a run off in House District 50 special election
And then there were two: Republican Mike VanDeWalle and Democrat Celia Israel head into a run off in House District 50 special election

The increasingly inessential race to replace Mark Strama in House District 50 drags on after an inconclusive special election tonight. Republican Mike VanDeWalle claimed a quasi-victory, but with less than 50% of the vote he heads to a run off with Democrat Celia Israel.

Early forecasts of an 8.2% turnout in HD50 turned out to be pretty inaccurate, with only 15.9% of the district's roughly 96,000 registered voters making it out. Better than predicted, but still dismal for a house race.

VanDeWalle blazed ahead with 39.81% of early votes, but closed out the night with a slight dip to 39.16%. When the numbers started rolling in, Israel actually outperformed him on e-day on voting in the district's 39 precincts(35.79% to his 33.82% by 8.40pm) but when the big numbers came in from the voting centers, she topped out by 10.40pm at 31.86%.

The two other Democrats on the ballot barely scraped into double digits. After much infighting (mostly aimed at Israel) Jade Chang Sheppard scored 15.63%, while Rico Reyes came last on 13.35%.

So VanDeWalle and Israel head for a run off, most likely on Dec. 10. However, the winner will only finish out Strama's expired term. There's still a regular primary to go next March, and filing for that opens Nov. 9 and closes Dec. 9, the day before round two. The winner will get bragging rights going into the 2014 election cycle, and a slight boost from being a sort of incumbent, but it will be small mercy when the big money starts flying in the statewide races, skewing everything down ballot.

Of course, this probably leaves many Dems wondering why Strama, when he quit abruptly to take a high-paying gig with Google Fiber, didn't just do what most lawmakers do when they get a new, high paying gig: Stay in the lege, but just phone it in.

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