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Democrat Celia Israel Wins HD 50 Runoff

Ben Philpott, KUT News
Celia Israel taking celebratory pictures with supporters Tuesday night in Austin.

Voters in northeast Travis County have a new state representative. Democrat Celia Israel won last night’s special election runoff to fill out the remainder of former state Rep Mark Strama’s term.

Israel, a Democratic activist, had finished 2nd in the November special election. But while she lost by about 8 percentage points to Republican Mike VanDeWalle, the three Democrats running in that election took nearly 60 percent of the vote combined. And as the votes came in last night, once again 60 percent of the district picked a Democrat.

When Israel addressed a crowd of supporters at the Four Seasons hotel, she thanked them for all the hard work they put in block walking the district to make sure people turned out to vote.

“The voters in Texas, I’m here to tell you, are hungry for that attention. They want that respect. They were happy to see us.  They want to know that we respect them. They want to know that we stand for equality. They want to know that we stand for women’s rights. They want to know that when you push the envelope too far we’re gonna call you on it," Israel said.

But Israel won't actually get any laws passed, at least not during this term. The next legislative session doesn't begin until next January, after the term she just won expires. Still, Israel says she’ll call House Speaker Joe Straus today to find out when she gets the keys to her new office and when her work as a state lawmaker begins.

“You know there’s going to be interim committees. There’s going to be important work that does get done. They say the important work gets done between sessions. So I’m looking forward to finding out how I can help that will not only help the district but will help the larger effort as well," Israel said.

To serve in the next session, she'll need to repeat yesterday's performance at the ballot box this fall. She’s unopposed in the March 4th primaries, but will face off against VanDeWalle again in the November 2014 general election.

Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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