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Runoff Night

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The Republican party was the winner in the GOP runoff elections. Their voters got rid of a couple of candidates who are a little on the flaky side.
–Pete Olson defeated Shelley Sekula Gibbs in the battle for the Republican nomination in Tom DeLay’s old district. Gibbs would have had no chance to beat incumbent Democrat Nick Lampson. Olson has a shot. Even though he was little known at the beginning of the race, word of mouth boosted his candidacy. He’ll have big-money support from the national GOP hierarchy in November, and the get-out-the-vote push will help Republican state senator Mike Jackson as well. Jackson faces a tough challenge from Galveston city council member Joe Jaworski, a grandson of the late Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski. Sekula Gibbs would have had negative coattails. This race wasn’t close; Olson rolled up 68.51% of the vote.
–Angie Chen Button defeated Randy Dunning in the race to fill the seat being vacated by Fred Hill. Dunning is a bit of a wacko. He has been known to wear bulletproof vests to Garland city council meetings. And then there is his underground bomb shelter. You get the point. Democrat Sandra VuLe was hoping to unite the Asian community in a race against Dunning. Not going to happen. Button should be able to hold the seat. What makes this win impressive is that Dunning had a constituency, albeit the far-out conservatives, and Button was just a prominent civic leader with no real base other than Asians. In runoffs matching candidates of these descriptions, you would expect the candidate with a constituency to win. But Chen won, 53.17 to 46.82.
–In an earlier post, I speculated about the reason for the very large turnout in this runoff. Was there was still enough residual rivalry between Midland and Odessa that there might be a backlash against Tom Craddick for getting involved in Buddy West’s bid for one more term, against Tryon Lewis. The answer is no. The turnout was generated by a get-out-the-vote machine built with the help of Lewis’s significant edge in fundraising. This seat represents a pickup for Craddick.
–Ralph Sheffield’s victory over Temple city council member Martha Tyroch was predicted on the first day of the runoff campaign by Sheffield’s consultant Ted Delisi. (Delisi’s mother, Dianne Delisi, currently occupies the seat.) The result was a victory for negative campaigning. Tyroch didn’t want to wage that kind of campaign, but in failing to do it, she gave Sheffield too much of an advantage. She had a record to defend, and Sheffield had no record whatsoever (except a history of legal trouble over not paying taxes). This race was supposed to be close, but it wasn’t: Sheffield won with 63.50%.
–Ken Legler beat Fred Roberts, 51.64% to 48.35% in the race to succeed Robert Talton. This was a close race in a low-turnout district. Roberts was carrying the banner of the education community, but in a year when Democrats were energized by a close race for the party’s presidential nomination, the crossover votes from teachers never materialized. Having voted in the Democratic primary, they were shut out of the Republican runoff. Education advocates are having a terrible year at the polls.

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