The El Paso Times is reporting today the results of a new poll in the HD 76 race between incumbent Norma Chavez and attorney Naomi Gonzalez. Chavez's eleven point lead in a previous poll (41.6%-30%) has melted away. The latest poll by The Reuel Group has Chavez with 38% of the vote and Gonzalez with 36.8%. A third candidate, Tony San Roman, has 5.2%. This week the race turned into a proxy fight between trial lawyers and TLR, with huge contributions on both sides. A runoff would lure still more money into the race. The poll surveyed 533 likely Democratic voters and has a margin of error of +/-3.4%. The Times interviewed the UT pollster Jim Henson, who said, "Running on a record of knowing how government works and being an established part of government is not the message for this cycle." While I think that is generally true, it may not be true for this race. Border communities have significant needs, and it is often an advantage to be an incumbent with experience. That is in Chavez's favor. What is not in her favor is her tendency to get in scrapes -- ask Marisa Marquez -- and to alienate people with her prickly personality, and the business community undoubtedly sees this as a chance to take her out and get someone in office they can work with.
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