Austin Democrat secures seat with a 16-vote victory margin

Nolan Hicks

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, increased her lead over Republican challenger Dan Neil by one vote — to a lead of 16 votes — after Travis County officials finished counting about 100 absentee ballots on Monday.

The final and unofficial results show that Howard was barely able to survive a Republican tidal wave that defeated 22 of her Democratic colleagues in the Texas House of Representatives.

“We want to make sure that every legal vote was counted,” said Zach Vaughn, a spokesman for the Neil campaign. “We’re going to sit down tomorrow to consider [a recount].”

Attempts to contact the Howard campaign were unsuccessful as of press time.

The win gives Democrats 51 seats in the House, preventing Republicans from obtaining a two-thirds majority that would have rendered Democrats powerless and unable to mount procedural opposition to bills.