Friday, November 5, 2010

HD48 could give GOP a super-majority

Updated: Wednesday, 03 Nov 2010, 7:14 PM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 03 Nov 2010, 7:12 PM CDT

AUSTIN (KXAN) - A very close House race in northwest Travis County could tip the scales even further in favor of the Republicans to give them a "super-majority.”

The race for House District 48 ended on election night with Democratic incumbent Donna Howard beating her Republican opponent Dan Neil by just 15 votes. A super-majority would mean massive power for the Republicans, and they are only one seat shy of getting there.

Before the election, Democrats had 73 seats in the state House. Republicans had 77. Now, Democrats are down to 51, and Republicans hold 99. With one more seat, they would hold a two-thirds majority.

With that kind of power, Republicans can approve constitutional amendments, can pass legislation, and can help override vetoes all without the input of Democrats.

An official winner in House District 48 could be the deciding factor. With Howard winning by just 15 votes, Neil is waiting for Monday when elections officials will count military and provisional ballots and possibly hand this seat over to the GOP.

"Every vote counts,” Howard said after Tuesday’s early numbers rolled in. “It really is important that people exercise their right to vote."

Her opponent has not yet called for a re-count. Instead, he is waiting on those uncounted vote totals.

"It was a long, hard road to get this close,” Neil said. “It will be a long, hard road to turn over those 15 votes."

Having lost her party's strength in numbers overnight, Howard knew she was in for an uphill battle with such a large Republican majority.

"It's going to be a real challenge here to build coalitions that can work together to come up with some common ground solutions, but I'm looking forward to going back and being a part of that,” she said.

But the upcoming battle against one Republican could stop her from even having that chance.

"We want to make sure every vote's counted,” said Neil. I'd love to see it maybe change, but ultimately, if every vote is counted, and she has one more vote, I'm fine with it."

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