State Representative Dawnna Dukes had served in the Texas Legislature for 24 years. But after a serious car accident in 2013, felony corruption charges, and a last-minute decision revoking her earlier promises to resign, the field to replace her steadily grew.
A solid Democrat seat within Travis County, HD 46 saw five challengers emerge and the incumbent, Dukes, fail to even make the runoff. The two frontrunners were former Austin Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and immigration attorney Jose “Chito” Vela, also serving in local government as a planning commissioner for the City of Austin. Vela squeaked out a narrow lead during the first round of ballots with 39.52% to Cole’s 38.23%. But as is frequently the case in runoff elections, the candidate in second place in after the primary more often than not wins the runoff; Cole eventually won by a mere 183 votes.
Here’s a quick look at the numbers:
|Texas House District 46 – By The Numbers|
|Sheryl Cole – Primary||Sheryl Cole – Runoff||Jose Vela – Primary||Jose Vela – Runoff|
|Total Money Raised||$142,090.88||$120,893.10||$42,002.98||$56,957.25|
|Total Number of Donations||347||261||346||252|
|Average Donation Amount||$409.48||$463.19||$121.40||$226.02|
|Total Money Raised In-District||$16,357.52||$12,751.55||$15,644.00||$8,984.00|
|Total Number of Donations In-District||61||50||176||95|
|Percent of All Money Raised From In-District||11.51%||10.55%||37.24%||15.77%|
|Total Money Raised Outside District||$125,733.36||$108,141.55||$26,358.98||$47,973.25|
|Total Number of Donations Outside District||286||211||170||157|
|Percent of All Money Raised From Outside District||88.49%||89.45%||62.76%||84.23%|
|Cost Per Vote||$30.07||$12.52||$11.71||$9.88|
Interestingly, due to HD 46’s demographic makeup, the seat is subtly viewed by political insiders as likely to elect an African-American. Dukes, an African-American female, had succeeded Wilhemina Delco, who happened to be Duke’s former boss and the first African-American female elected at-large in Austin. Based on their messaging and strategy, it’s clear the Cole campaign sought to continue that legacy.
Key Takeaways from the HD 46 Race:
Before you go…
For an incumbent State Representative, Dukes received an incredibly small amount of financial support for her reelection, even taking into consideration her personal legal issues. That said, HillCo PAC — one of the most influential lobby groups in Austin — broke with the majority of power players and backed Dukes to the tune of $1,000, even when her campaign appeared to be on the ropes.
Our Race to Raise series takes a deeper look at the most high-profile races of the election cycle, focusing specifically on money raised by those seeking to serve in public office. Stay tuned for the next installment.