March 10, 2004
Rodriguez wins squeaker

The final tally is in, and Rep. Ciro Rodriguez has held on to win his hard-fought primary race with Henry Cuellar. This Express News story says the difference is 151 votes, but the SOS page has it at 126, with Rodriguez winning by the tiny margin of 24,334 to 24,208, or 50.13% to 49.87%. No word yet on whether Cuellar might call for a recount.

Looking at the county totals, turnout in Webb County, which Cuellar won 12,713 to 2429, was nearly enough to swamp Rodriguez. Bexar County (San Antonio), cast about 2000 fewer votes in this race (Rodriguez won there by 10,803 to 2733). Overall turnout in Bexar County was 5.66%, compared to Webb's 28.95%. Lack of a meaningful Presidential primary surely cost Rodriguez, while the prospect of sending a Laredoan to DC boosted Cuellar. Thanks to the primary date moving back a week, Rodriguez was nearly an unanticipated victim of the redistricting fight.

Rodriguez will still have to face a Republican in November (the CD 28 primary there is headed to a runoff between James Hopson and Francisco Canseco), but with nearly five times as many Democratic primary voters as Republican, I'd expect that race to be a lot less close.

Overall turnout was 6.86% on the Democratic side and 5.58% on the GOP side, a bit less than predicted by the SOS for the Dems and about on target for the Reps. As in 2002, when Democratic primary turnout (PDF) was significantly higher than Republican primary turnout (PDF), that won't mean a thing in November.

UPDATE: Apparently, the SOS is upset about what went down in Zapata County, the last county to report results from this race.

Statement from Secretary of State Geoff Connor regarding reporting of election results in Zapata County:
For Immediate Release
March 10, 2004 Contact: Jennifer Waisath
(512) 463-9981

"I am extremely concerned and disappointed by the reporting of election results in Zapata County. My office made repeated requests for a timely processing of election returns and found local officials unresponsive. While other counties experienced some difficulties with equipment and their vote counts, they were still responsive to our requests for information.

Throughout this process, my office remained in contact not only with local officials but with the Attorney General's Office.

Of paramount concern is that election results are reported accurately, completely and in a timely fashion so as to ensure confidence in the integrity of our elections."

The Quorum Report has a bit more:

Sources tell us that the Quorum Report was not the only organization to know the results of the election before the Office of the Secretary of State. That is one of the reasons they have consulted with the AG's office. Apparently Connor was or is on the verge of requesting Texas Rangers be sent to the county.

Damn. This isn't over yet. Stay tuned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 10, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

Let me get this straight - an election was decided by Webb County? The guys in Laredo call the Duval County guys amateurs.

Posted by: Brenda Helverson on March 10, 2004 6:50 PM