District 23 Run-Off Today
By Lee Nichols,
10:18AM, Tue. Dec. 12, 2006
Only one seat in Congress hasn't been settled yet, there's reason to believe it may further pad the Democrats' margin of power in the House, and it's right here in Texas. District 23, which stretches from western San Antonio to eastern El Paso County, pits the two top vote-getters in a run-off from Nov. 7's special election, Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla against Democrat (and former Congressman) Ciro Rodriguez. You can follow the results by checking back in here at Chronic tonight after the 7pm poll closing (of course, since El Paso County, Hudspeth County, and part of Culberson County are in the Mountain Time Zone, a few polls won't close until 8pm Austin time); or you can also go directly to the Secretary of State Web site.
If you aren't up to date on why an election is being held today: We'll assume that you remember the shameless redistricting that occurred in 2003, gerrymandering done solely to appease then-U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's desire to increase the number of Republicans in the Texas Congressional delegation. One of those gerrymanders was District 23 – Bonilla's popularity among Hispanics was in decline, so the Lege tried to pack more white Republicans into his district. This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that that action violated the voting rights of those Latinos, and ordered 23 redrawn yet again, this time in a configuration less safe for Bonilla and more likely to let Hispanic voters express their preference. (This also required that four other south and central Texas districts be redrawn, including Austin districts 25 and 21. A pdf map of those districts is here.)
This required that the March primary results of those districts be thrown out, and a special election open to multiple candidates from any party be held, with a majority of votes required to win (unlike general elections, which only require a plurality). The other four districts were settled on Nov. 7, but Bonilla fell just short with 48.6% of the vote. Rodriguez was the best of five Democrats at 19.87%, and thus becomes the challenger in today's run-off.
In a Survey USA poll conducted Dec. 8-10, Bonilla currently leads Rodriguez 51%-47%. The poll surveyed 530 likely voters, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3%.