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The 150th and final seat in the Texas House of Representatives, left vacant by the death of Glenda Dawson, will be decided by a special election, and probably a runoff as well. The field includes three Republicans and a Democrat. I have posted previously on this race (See “The Last Race,” November 29); here is an update.

The district consists of Matagorda County and part of Brazoria County. In the general election, almost 28,000 of the 35,000 or so votes cast came from Brazoria, with Dawson, whose name appeared on the ballot as the Republican nominee, winning the county over Democrat Anthony DiNovo by 17,000+ to 10,000+. Matagorda County was nip and tuck, with Dawson winning there as well.

The leading Republican candidate is Mike O’Day, who is supported (according to GOP sources) by another Brazoria County state representative, Dennis Bonnen, by Dawson’s daughter, and by several county officials. Randy Weber is trying to position himself as the most conservative candidate in the race and has the support of Cathie Adams, the longtime head of the Eagle Forum. Also in his camp, for what it’s worth, is congresswoman (for the moment) Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, who is finishing out Tom DeLay’s term. The third Republican is John Gorman, who entered the race late. Democrat DiNovo is running again.

This will be a light turnout race with the election occurring six days before Christmas. There are three scenarios for what might happen:
1. O’Day leads, DiNovo (who polled 37% against Dawson) finishes second, and O’Day wins in a runoff.
2. Republicans turn out in sufficient numbers to put O’Day and Weber in a runoff, freezing DiNovo out.
3. DiNovo gets into a runoff against one of the Republicans, and the supporters of the unsuccessful Republicans stay home, allowing DiNovo to pull off an upset.

If a Republican holds the seat, their margin in the House will be 81-69. If DiNovo manages to win, the Republican majority will be cut to 80-70.
I think (3) is pretty unlikely, but runoffs are dicey, low-turnout affairs. This is clearly a Republican seat, but a bunch of Democrats will be showing up in Austin on January 9 after winning “Republican” seats.

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