Naked City

Heflin Surrenders

In the end, Talmadge Heflin went back to being just Talmadge Heflin – no longer the powerful Republican legislator who wielded mighty influence as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. On Monday, Heflin gave up his fight to reclaim the House seat he narrowly lost to Houston Democrat Hubert Vo in November. The former 11-term lawmaker withdrew his election challenge after a House investigation concluded that Vo won the election by 16 votes. An earlier tally had Vo the victor by 33 votes.

State Rep. Will Hartnett, R-Dallas, who investigated the case as "master of discovery" of a special House committee, released his findings after reviewing reams of evidence and hearing arguments from attorneys on both sides. Hartnett determined that Heflin failed to provide the required "clear and convincing" evidence to prove he won the election, nor did he provide sufficient reason to justify calling a new election for the District 149 seat. As a consequence, the House seat stays with Vo, a real estate developer and the first Vietnamese-American to be elected to the Legislature. Now that the Heflin-Vo flap is over, House Republicans are as relieved as Vo to take this case off the table and get on with the business of government, thus demonstrating rare bipartisan support for agreeing not to disagree.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Talmadge Heflin, Hubert Vo, House Appropriations Committee, Will Hartnett

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