The Austin Chronicle

Texas House: Establishment Rules

Hinojosa and Workman fend off challengers

By Richard Whittaker, March 4, 2016, News

It was a big night for two establishments in House District 49 on Super Tuesday: Aus­tin's center city Democrats and the state GOP leadership each got their preferred candidate.

AISD trustee Gina Hinojosa beat the odds and avoided a run-off in the seven-way primary to replace retiring incumbent Rep. Elliott Naishtat. When early voting came in, Hino­josa had caught a surprise early wind, leading the crowded field with 55.4% of all votes cast. As election day precincts came in, she reinforced that lead to finish at 57%.

At her victory party at Scholz Garten (the historic home of establishment Dem gatherings), surrounded by a coterie of local union chiefs and activists, and with her father, Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hino­josa, working the crowd, Hinojosa put her success down to education: more particularly, that school finance reform will be the top priority in the next legislative session. "I think people in this town understand how dire the situation is for our public schools."

There was less cheer at Dirty Martin's for Huey Rey Fischer, the former legislative staffer who had hoped to mobilize the student vote. He finished third with 14.1%, after UT law professor Heather Way's 18.7%. Still, Fischer argued that the long lines to vote on the UT campus prove that Austin politicians would be foolish to ignore the academic vote. He said, "Students aren't apathetic. They care about the issues, and someone just has to find a way to resonate with them."

In the county's only other contested House primary, this time on the Republican side, incumbent Paul Workman, R-Austin, handily bested a challenge from failed council candidate Jay Wiley, by a three-to-two margin. This leaves Travis County with a grand total of three contested races for the lower chamber come November's general election: Workman will face Democrat Ana Jordan; Repub­lican Gabriel Nila will challenge Rep. Dawnna Dukes, in HD 46; and GOPer Ceasar Ruiz is hunting Rep. Celia Israel in neighboring HD 50.

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