Early vot­ing ends in Se­nate race

Turnout low as 4 vie to re­place Gar­cia in Harris County post

Houston Chronicle - - CITY | STATE - By Zach Des­part STAFF WRITER

Early vot­ing con­cluded Fri­day in the spe­cial elec­tion to re­place Sylvia Gar­cia in Se­nate Dis­trict 6, and the low turnout is about what the Harris County clerk ex­pected.

More than 1,097 vot­ers cast bal­lots Fri­day ei­ther in per­son or by mail, bring­ing the early vot­ing tally to 10,011.

Turnout typ­i­cally spikes on the last day of early vot­ing, but heavy rains that be­gan Fri­day af­ter­noon may have en­cour­aged res­i­dents to wait un­til reg­u­lar bal­lot­ing on Tues­day. Harris County Clerk Stan Sta­nart ex­pects just shy of 20,000 of reg­is­tered vot­ers the dis­trict to par­tic­i­pate, for a turnout of about 6 per­cent.

The race fea­tures four can­di­dates: Demo­cratic state Reps. Carol Al­varado and Ana Her­nan­dez, Demo­cratic con­sul­tant Mia Mundy and Harris County Repub­li­can Party precinct chair­woman Martha Fierro.

Gar­cia re­signed the seat last month af­ter she was elected to the U.S. House Dis­trict 29 seat va­cated by the re­tire­ment of fel­low Demo­crat Gene Green.

Se­nate Dis­trict 6, in east Harris County, is heav­ily His­panic and tra­di­tion­ally sup­ports Democrats.

Al­varado and Her­nan­dez are the fron­trun­ners, Univer­sity of Hous­ton po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor Bran­don Rot­ting­haus said, be-

cause they have more elected ex­pe­ri­ence and have raised more money. Al­varado spent $391,000 from the end of Oc­to­ber to Dec. 1, while Her­nan­dez spent $162,000 dur­ing that pe­riod.

Fierro re­ported only $4,000 in fundrais­ing in that time frame, which was higher than Mundy, who dis­closed no con­tri­bu­tions or ex­penses.

In the race’s only de­bate, held Tues­day, Al­varado and Her­nan­dez spent much of their time spar­ring with each other about their time in the Leg­is­la­ture. Her­nan­dez said Al­varado was too agree­able with Repub­li­cans in the cham­ber, while Al­varado sug­gested Her­nan­dez lives out­side the Se­nate dis­trict, a charge she de­nies.

If no can­di­date re­ceives 50 per­cent of the vote, a runoff elec­tion will be held. If Al­varado or Her­nan­dez ul­ti­mately pre­vails, Harris County must hold a spe­cial elec­tion, likely in Jan­uary, to fill her House seat in the Leg­is­la­ture. That elec­tion would be over­seen by in­com­ing county clerk Diane Traut­man, who de­feated Sta­nart in Novem­ber.

Polls will be open Tues­day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Res­i­dents can find their vot­ing lo­ca­tion at Har­risVotes.com.

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