Run-off Election Results
Winners and losers in the Democratic primary
Texas House: The Intent to Represent
Chito Vela led in the House District 46 primary, but Sheryl Cole took the run-off. The former City Council member bested her opponent by about 170 votes, swinging the difference from March.
The two ran an amicable and competitive race that got tense as the run-off approached, with Vela swiping at "special interest" support for Cole (via the Texas Association of Realtors) and Cole calling out Vela's voting record (he voted in the 2010 GOP primary). Race also became central when Cole explicitly lobbied to keep HD 46, traditionally black though now largely Hispanic, African-American in representation. At Hoover's Cooking on Tuesday night, after returns came in, she returned to that theme.
"This is a district that for all its history lost representation at the same time the Trump wave came in," she said. "We've worked on this from day one, saying love is stronger than hate; that our diversity makes us stronger; and we recommitted ourselves to stand by each other. We'll not stand for the status quo. We will not be silent in the face of discrimination."
Cole should take the general in November (she faces Republican school teacher Gabriel Nila), and has a full agenda on her plate (see "The Prize Fight," May 4).
Across town in HD 47, real estate agent Vikki Goodwin beat AFSCME State Director Elaina Fowler by 1,300 votes, and told me after securing her victory that she was looking forward to seeing GOP Rep. Paul Workman replaced. "We have a lot of ammunition. There's a lot of people unhappy with his representation over the past eight years," she said. She pointed to his inaction on school finance as one point of concern, and plans to work with teachers and parent groups to come up with solutions. She anticipates some Republicans being unaware of his record and warming to her after learning about her support for local control and traffic congestion fixes, a particularly pressing problem. "I feel like it's a winnable district, and I'm going to work as hard as I can to make a difference." – Mary Tuma
Governor: Lupe Valdez's Ascent
Andrew White and Lupe Valdez were even in early returns, and ping-ponged for the lead throughout the night. By a relatively slim margin (26,000 votes), voters chose Valdez to face off against Gov. Greg Abbott in November. Texans (or at least the small pool who show up for run-off elections) apparently saw past Valdez's missteps, and her progressive values and promise to give the working class a leg up swayed voters. The former Dallas County sheriff has a steep climb to unseat the reigning Republican emperor, but we're happy to watch the openly gay Latina take on an anti-all-of-that guv. – M.T.
Congress: 3 Landslides, 1 Dogfight
Of the four Democratic run-offs for Travis County congressional seats, three were effectively decided when the early vote was tallied. The fourth – CD 25 – was a nail-biter between hospital administrator Julie Oliver and defense attorney Chris Perri, undecided until late in the evening. Notably, Oliver's winning margin of roughly 1,000 votes was supplied by the final Travis County tallies; the other 12 counties were essentially a wash. The campaign exchanges had gotten testy – Oliver suggested Perri's profession might hurt him in the general, and Perri pointed to an Oliver donor with corporate hospital interests – reflecting the showdown's razor-thin edge. Afterward, Perri encouraged his supporters to get behind Oliver. "She's smart, dedicated, and hardworking, and she now needs our support against Roger Williams," he said.
In CD 21 – seen as the most competitive race for November, after the retirement of 30-year GOP incumbent Lamar Smith – the Democratic face-off featured veteran/entrepreneur Joseph Kopser against pastor/educator Mary Wilson, who had a narrow come-from-behind lead in the first round. The early vote had Kopser up roughly 60-40%, but he was hesitant to claim a win, saying, "We're not making any predictions." Wilson texted tersely, "I would have preferred a closer race out of the box." Kopser needn't have worried: He won by nearly 4,000 votes, 58%-42%, and will face Ted Cruz protégé Chip Roy in November.
In CD 10, gerrymandered to return GOP incumbent Michael McCaul, the Democratic run-off braced Austin Assistant City Attorney Mike Siegel against Tawana Walter-Cadien. Siegel took 70% early and held it, handily winning eight of nine counties. Siegel said, "Looks like we go back to work tomorrow," and credited his "major field operation" for the victory. Of the entrenched McCaul, he said, "He's convinced his incumbency and his pocketbook will carry him ... but the voters are determined to have real representation."
The CD 31 race was notable for the high road taken by both candidates. Consultant Mary Jennings "MJ" Hegar bested Dr. Christine Eady Mann by a solid 62%-38%. Hegar benefited from a higher initial name ID, as a decorated veteran and author of a combat memoir, and (Eady Mann noted) she received support from the national Democratic Party. Hegar said she was excited by the response of the voters, and believes CD 31 voters are "tired of non-representation" by GOP incumbent John Carter and "ready for a change." Eady Mann reiterated she is supporting the nominee, and said, "It's definitely possible to swing this district ... Democratic voters are enthusiastic and ready to go to work." – Michael King
459th District Court: Civil Matters
Maya Guerra Gamble's slim lead after early voting held steady as returns came in Tuesday night. She beat Aurora Martinez Jones with 51.2% of the vote. Guerra Gamble, an attorney experienced at the local and federal level, won't face a GOP challenger in the November election, and will take over for Abbott appointee Dustin Howell in the new year. – Chase Hoffberger