March 22, 2004
Cuellar calls for recount

The Cuellar-Rodriguez race in the Democratic primary for CD 28 is going into overtime as Cueller has formally asked for a recount.

Henry Cuellar, the Laredo lawyer who narrowly lost to incumbent U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in the Democratic primary, called for a recount today an hour before the deadline.

He was scheduled to have a 4:30 news conference at his Laredo headquarters to announce the development.

The recount is the latest twist in a dramatic race between two former Texas House colleagues that saw some prickly campaigning over the past few months. Cuellar accused Rodriguez, a San Antonio native, of doing little for the district during his seven-year tenure while Rodriguez painted a portrait of an opportunistic party-hopper willing to sell his political soul for elected office.

District 28 includes 11 counties and runs from Hays County in the north to Zapata County in the south. More than 48,500 votes were cast in the race.

The final canvass by the Texas Democratic Primary on Saturday revealed a 145-vote margin in Rodriguez’s favor.

That total has bounced between 126 and 170 since the polls closed and absentee ballots were counted. I'm not sure why there was an adjustment downwards from the previous total of 170.

Because the contest took place during a primary, the Texas Democratic Party will conduct the recount. Recounts arising out of a general election are handled by the Texas secretary of state’s office.

Party officials have two days to review Cuellar’s petition and ensure its accuracy. Once the petition is approved, the recount must begin within seven days, said Jim Boynton, primary director for the Texas Democratic Party.

Each county involved in the recount will be contacted and a time scheduled for the recount. Both Cuellar and Rodriguez have the right to be present with one or more representatives at each recount site, Boynton said.

The recount will likely be completed early next month, before the runoff election on April 13, he said.


Boynton said he hasn’t seen a recount requested in a race this size since 1988 in an appellate court race. The original election was not overturned that time.

“It’s sort of a process,” Boynton said. “It’s time consuming and it’s hard to get everybody to make the times fit together.”

I don't mean to disparage, but I can't recall any recent election in which a recount resulted in a different outcome. Any help out there? Offhand, I wouldn't bet anything on Cuellar's chances, but I guess you never know.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 22, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

I'm not surprised he did it. He's just barely, barely lost two campaigns for Congress.

The marginal cost to him is very small ($15k, and perhaps some ill will and loss of respect needed for another race), but the marginal incentive is very large. If he wins, he goes to Congress.

I'd do it too, unless I was running for something like the presidency. That's when it's time to be gracious, a la Nixon.

Posted by: Another Rice Grad on March 23, 2004 2:15 AM

I agree that the risk/reward is in his favor, and I certainly don't blame him for trying. I'm just curious as to what the historical odds are for him.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on March 23, 2004 8:08 AM