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Lite Gov Ambitions

Can a Little 'Ol Democrat Beat a Republican Gadzillionaire?
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“I’ve got election day jitters,” Lieutenant Governor hopeful Linda Chavez-Thompson tells me early Tuesday. “I’m hoping there won’t be a runoff, but if there is I’m going to hit the ground running on Wednesday morning.”

While most eyes are on a hotly contested gubernatorial race today, there’s been a record turnout in early voting among Republicans, the three Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor are rallying voters for the state’s second in command spot.

Whichever Democrat wins will have to raise a significant war chest to challenge incumbent Republican David Dewhurst, a businessman and gadzillionaire.

Former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle is feeling jubilant about his chances. “If I was feeling any better I’d think it was a frame up,” he says.  Earle will be spending the day making calls then head to the Travis County Democrat’s “Big Tent” party at Serranos. From there he plans to make a pilgrimage to the Democratic watering hole Scholz Garten in downtown Austin. “I was practically born there,” he jokes.

Chavez-Thompson will have her election watch party at Granada Homes on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. She is buoyed by the news that early voting numbers are robust in the Rio Grande Valley. “I think this will be good for me,” says Chavez-Thompson who spent many weeks along the border gaining traction with Democratic voters.

Marc Katz, owner of Katz’s deli, will be having his election watch party at his restaurant in downtown Austin. “We are having ourselves a big election party – we are just elated,” he says in his trademark New York brasso.

Katz says he won’t be hitting the polls today. “I’m done campaigning. I’m going to rest on my laurels and I know the voters will do the right thing.”

Katz won’t cop to any jitters about his election day dominance. “I would be absolutely shocked if I got anything less than a majority of the vote,” he says.

Let’s see what voters have in store today for the uber-confident Katz and the rest of the Democratic candidates. Will there be a runoff or a clear winner? We’ll have a good idea by 7:00 p.m. Stay tuned folks.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.