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Chron overview of SD06

The day before early voting begins in the SD06 special election (which is today), the Chron previews the race. It has a lot of stuff we already know, and it mostly focuses on the two frontrunners, Sylvia Garcia and Rep. Carol Alvarado, so I’m not going to recapitulate that. There are a couple of interesting tidbits that I want to mention.

With eight candidates in the race in an overwhelmingly Democratic district that includes Houston’s East End, the race is likely to come down to a battle between two prominent Democrats, state Rep. Carol Alvarado, whose House district overlaps much of the Senate district, and former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia.

Also running are R.W. Bray, the Republican candidate who lost to Gallegos last fall; Democrats Susan Delgado, Joaquin Martinez and Rodolfo “Rudy” Reyes; Republican Dorothy Olmos; and Green Party candidate Maria Selva.

If a runoff is needed – and with so many candidates, one is likely – it will be held between Feb. 23 and March 9, with Gov. Rick Perry scheduling the exact date.

[…]

Among the state’s 31 senate districts, this predominantly Hispanic district ranks last in the number of registered voters (284,000) and in 2012 voter turnout (138,000). [Rice poli sci prof Mark] Jones estimates that fewer than 1 in 10 registered voters and 1 in 25 district residents will cast a ballot.

While there have been a number of legislative special elections in recent years, there hasn’t been one like this, in a strongly Democratic district with two clear leaders and at least one Republican who will likely do better than the default background candidate rate. The closest match is the 2005 special election in HD143 in which Rep. Ana Hernandez was elected to succeed the late Rep. Joe Moreno. It’s not an exact match because there were no declared Republicans in the race, though one of the minor candidates was the same Dorothy Olmos who is running in this race (and has run in many others since 2005) as a Republican. Hernandez and runnerup Laura Salinas combined for 68.4% in that race, with four other candidates splitting the remaining 31.6%. PDiddie does some crunching to suggest a vote total that would win this race in the first round. I look at it this way: Assume Bray gets 15%, and the other five combine to take 10%. For either Garcia or Alvarado to win it on January 26, one would have to beat the other by at least 25 points, i.e., by at least a 50-25 margin, since 25% of the vote is already accounted for. Do you think that’s even remotely possible? I sure don’t. And if the non-Sylvia and Carol candidates combine for more of the vote, a first-round winner would need an even wider margin. Ain’t gonna happen.

As for the vote total that Jones predicts, here’s a look at the four most recent Senate special elections:

Dist Date Num Votes Top 2 ================================ 22 May 2010 4 29,851 81.47 17 Dec 2008 2 43,673 84.52 31 Jan 2004 7 69,415 66.27 01 Jan 2004 6 69,206 75.50

“Num” is the number of candidates, and “Top 2″ is the combined percentage of the top two candidates. There was a runoff in each case, and I’m cheating a little with the SD17 special election – the vote total (“Votes”) is from the runoff, since the special election itself (which had 6 candidates) was on the date of the 2008 general election, and thus had the kind of turnout (223,295) one would expect for a regular Senate election. I don’t know how much you can extrapolate from all this, but you write your blog post with the data you have, not the data you wish you had. For what it’s worth, from chatting with the campaigns I’d say they’re expecting a slightly higher vote total than Jones is projecting. We’ll see.

One more thing:

If a runoff is needed – and with so many candidates, one is likely – it will be held between Feb. 23 and March 9, with Gov. Rick Perry scheduling the exact date.

[…]

Meanwhile, the district’s approximately 813,000 residents will be without representation in the state Senate until the latter half of March, when the newly elected senator will be sworn in.

I would think that if the runoff is no later than March 9 that the newly-elected Senator would be sworn in sooner than “the latter half of March”. I know there’s a canvass period for election results that can take a week or more before the result is certified, but does that hold everything up until it’s done? It’s not usually a consideration because we have elections in November and swearings-in in January, but obviously here it does matter. The statutes on elections to fill a legislative vacancy were not clear to me on this, and the last time we had a vacancy during a session (2005, when Rep. Moreno died in an auto accident), the ensuing special election was not called until November. Anyone have a good answer for this?

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4 Comments

  1. Bill Shirley says:

    SD06 is supposed to be the blue in that map above. It however does not fit with some of the other maps I’f finding online, particularly it’s overlap of the Heights.

  2. The map I embedded on my post is a screen shot taken straight from the Texas Legislative Council redistricting page:

    http://gis1.tlc.state.tx.us/

    Click Plans…Shaded, choose the Senate plan S172, find District 6, and zoom in or out to your heart’s content. Zoom in enough and you can see street-level data. Does this help?

  3. Mark P. Jones says:

    On turnout my very rough projection is 25-30k, with the actual level of voter participation depending heavily on the size and efficacy of the eight campaigns’ respective GOTV efforts.

    http://blog.chron.com/bakerblog/2013/01/the-senate-district-6-special-election-six-takeaways/

    While SD-17 did have a notably higher turnout than that in 2008, it also had around 100k more registered voters and 100k more voters in the preceding Nov. general election. It also featured a partisan Dem (Bell) vs. Rep (Huffman) matchup to decide the winner as opposed to this race which features two relatively similar Democrats (at least regarding ideology and policy) and serves mainly to set the stage for a near-certain second round between the same two Democrats.

    After the election is held, the county has 10 days to canvass, and the state 4 more. Then the governor has 5 more days to certify the results. If the powers that be really wanted to expedite the process (as for instance they did in the cases of Mike O’Day and Joan Huffman) they could probably have the new senator in office by the second monday following the runoff (which my guess will be on either March 2 or March 9, though only the governor knows for sure), in which case the new senator could theoretically be sworn in on the 11th or 18th. But to date the governor has not seemed inclined to expedite the process, which leads me to think the new senator won’t occupy her seat in Austin until the latter half of March.

  4. […] of the vote to come on Election Day this Saturday, we will very likely fall on the low end of the turnout projections. There really isn’t a comparable race to turn to for comparison, but just for grins […]

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