Jose “Chito” Vela and Sheryl Cole are heading to a May runoff in the House District 46 Democratic Primary race.
Vela picked up 39 percent of the vote, with Cole receiving 38 percent. A candidate needs at least 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
All votes have been counted.
Dawnna Dukes, who has represented the district for 24 years, received 10 percent of the vote.
Vela, a local immigration lawyer, said he had knocked on thousands of doors while campaigning and brought in $46,631 donations since last year.
“I think I’ve got the momentum,” Vela said. “I think my campaign has the spirit, the energy and the strength. I’m confident we’ll win in May.”
On the campaign trail, Cole received backing from many of the local party’s most powerful figures, including Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, U.S. Rep Lloyd Doggett and state Sen. Kirk Watson. The former Austin City council member amassed a healthy campaign fund, bringing in $187,231 since last year.
“In the months ahead I’ll continue to be a strong advocate against the voices of hate and division, and I’ll fight for the justice and opportunity our community deserves,” Cole said.
Conversely, Dukes was all but invisible on the campaign trail, raising only $12,250 since last year and failing to show up at several public events.The 12-term district representative blamed her fundraising struggles on banks discontinuing their relationship with her over a felony corruption case that accused Dukes of falsifying work travel vouchers. She avoided a possible jail sentence when the Travis County District Attorney’s office in October admitted they could not prove their case and dropped the 13 felony charges and two misdemeanor charges Dukes faced.
Dukes also took criticism for her repeated absences at last year’s Legislative session, as her opponents questioned her fitness for a post she’s held since 1994.
House District 46 covers parts of East Austin and Pflugerville, and most of Manor.
The only candidate in the Republican Primary is Gabriel Nila, a public school teacher who opposed Dukes in the 2016 general election. He’ll face the Democratic winner in November.