Today was the final(?) Congressional election of 2006 cycle, and former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez (TX-23) became the 31st "new" Democrat in Congress.
I say "new" because Ciro had previously served as a Congressman, winning a special election in 1997 to fill a vacated seat until his loss in the 2004 Democratic primary. He was defeated by Henry Cuellar, largely because of redistricting which enabled the former Texas Secretary of State to annex his base area and win.
Yeah. You gotta love Texas politics.
Ciro reentered the race in early 2006, but was a distant challenger until a Washington Post photographer snapped a photo of Cuellar standing on the Republican side of the aisle, gleaming as President Bush affectionately grabs his face.
Ciro still lost the March primary by a narrow margin, but the TX Supreme Court ruled the state had violated the Voting Rights Act by taking large Republican areas and placing them in his district. An all-candidate primary was scheduled for November 7th.
Rodriguez and incumbant Republican Henry Bonilla got the most votes, and in today's run-off election, it looks like Ciro will take Bonilla's seat and go back to DC as part of the 2006 Democratic Wave.
At this point, Ciro is leading approx. 55% to 45%, with over 75% reporting. AP has called it for Rodriguez, and so do I.
That makes 31 new seats.