IN A STUNNER, DEMOCRAT BARRETT CLAIMS HD 97 RUNOFF
Democrat Dan Barrett leads HD 97 runoff with 52.74 percent of vote. Holds a 538-vote lead over Republican Mark Shelton.
A few boxes remain to be counted, but the spread between Dan Barrett and Mark Shelton has held steady all evening.
Although Barrett was the top vote getter in the first round of the special election, few thought he would win the runoff against the GOP candidate who presumably would have the Republican base united behind him.
The Democrat takes the seat of one of the Speaker's most loyal backers, retired state Rep. Anna Mowery. Barrett won't have much time to rest as he will have to defend his seat in the November general elections.
Harvey manages to find the only downbeat thing to say about the outcome: Barrett may not ever get to sit in the chair in the Capitol unless Governor 39% calls a special session before January 2009, because he must stand again for election in eleven months. But the repudiation of Texas House Republicans and their leader continues to be demonstrated at the ballot box.
Burnt Orange called it early and had the superior play-by-play. Boyd Richie states the game plain:
"I congratulate our newest Democratic State Representative Dan Barrett on his victory in House District 97. In an election marred with dirty tricks and Craddick cronies, Dan ran as an independent voice, who could be trusted to stand up against Tom Craddick's special interest agenda and fight for the best interests of Texas families.
Dan Barrett won in a district drawn by Republicans to elect a Republican, and his victory is a slap in the face to Speaker Tom Craddick and the failed Republican leadership in this state. Voters have sent a message that they are tired of "business as usual" in Austin and want leaders who will replace the pay-to-play politics of the Republican Party with a state government that works for all Texans."
Update (12/19): Paul Burka was waaaaaaaaaaay wrong. And graciously admits his error while explaining how he made it, through large bites of humble pie. Be sure to read all the comments. Kuffner adds some more, including an excerpt from Bud Kennedy at the Startlegram that detailed the Shelton losing situation on the ground.