In one of the few at-play Texas House district races, a pair of Austin candidates have faced a challenge campaigning where 60 percent of their constituents are new. HD 48 looks a lot different geographically than it did last election, now stretching into the southwest side of the city. Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, won that election by just four votes. Her new opponent, Republican Robert Thomas, isn’t making this one any easier on her.
As education will no doubt rise to the top of political issues in the upcoming legislative session, both candidates boast school-supporting backgrounds. Howard – a former registered nurse – once served on the school board of the Eanes ISD and also sponsored an amendment in the last session to use extra money from the state’s rainy day fund to pay for enrollment growth. She also supports the full restoration of funds cuts from public education and health care in the last session.
Robert Thomas, Republican HD 48 candidate
Thomas has a steady background in various parent organizations with the Austin ISD. He also serves on the district’s bond oversight committee. When it comes to school finance, he is pushing tax reform as the first step in fixing the state’s troubles.
Though recent redistricting changed the majority of this district’s makeup, it is now much more Democratic – which might be a plus for Howard. However, Thomas – a lawyer and business owner – has pointed to the number of undecided voters in HD 48 as a reason for both candidates to get personally acquainted with their new neighbors ahead of Election Day.
Libertarian Joe Edgar is also running. A former candidate for Travis County Precinct constable, Edgar grew up on an Indian reservation in Chiloquin, Oregon.
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