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HD 50 Special Election Headed for a January Runoff (Update)

Ben Philpott for KUT News
Dr. Mike VanDeWalle could be headed towards a run-off against Democrat Celia Israel who leads Democrats with 31 percent in early voting numbers.

Update: Mike VanDeWalle lead a crowded field in the race to finish out Mark Strama's (D-Austin) term as State Representative. But the local chiropractor only hovered around 40 percent of the vote.

VanDeWalle was the only Republican in the race. So even though he came in first he’s still easily trails the cumulative Democratic vote. That’s something VanDeWalle knows his team will have to address during the runoff.

“What we’ll do is we’ll sit down and we’ll discuss what we think we’ll need to do. Again I’m not the expert in this but I have to be the performer. So I’m looking forward to that," VanDeWalle said.

He doesn't expect to make major changes to his core issues, cutting taxes and limiting government regulation, during the runoff.

He’ll face Democratic activist Celia Israel in the runoff. Israel finished well ahead of fellow Democrats Jade Chang Sheppard and Rico Reyes.

Israel says she won’t waste any time before reaching out to folks who voted for the two other candidates.

“My first move it to reach out to the Democrats who did not think I was their choice and ask for their support and make the case that together we can turn Travis County deep blue and we can turn Texas purple if not blue, because the voters in HD 50 I think are very motivated," Israel said.

The Texas Secretary of State’s office expects the runoff sometime in January. But no specific date has been set.

Original Post (Nov. 5, 9:58 p.m.): As early voting totals come in, Republican Mike VanDeWalle leads with more than 39 percent of the vote. Celia Israel leads fellow Democrats Rico Reyes and Jade Chang Sheppard with 31 percent in the race for House District 50

The three Democrats split the rest of the vote – with Celia Israel in second with 31 percent. 

  • Republican Mike VanDeWalle leads with 39.16 percent of the vote (5,838 votes)
  • Democrat Celia Israel trails with 31.86 percent of the vote (4,750 votes)
  • Jade Chang Sheppard garnered 15.63 percent of the vote (2,330 avotes)
  • Rico Reyes garnered 13.35 percent of the vote (1,990 votes)

If that early vote holds, VanDeWalle and Israel will likely head to a runoff January. “It was just a lot of fun. I imagine there’ll be a little more stress involved. But again, when you’re out among the people, I’m listening, finding out what their needs are – I’m hoping that they’ll decide on me to represent them," VanDeWalle said. 
The seat was vacated earlier this year by Mark Strama, who left mid-term to take over as Google Fiber's point man in Austin.

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