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DISTRICT 47 CIOValinda Bolton may be the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the Austin area. She won this southern Travis County seat in 2006. The district spans Austin suburbs that were once solidly Republican but are quickly turning Democratic. This may be the GOP’s last, best shot to win District 47, which is now a 50-50 split between Democratic and Republican voters but won’t stay that way for long. Bolton has built a huge fundraising advantage. She’s raised more than $238,000 this year compared with $103,000 for Republican challenger Donna Keel. Bolton also has nearly four times as much money in the bank for the final month. That’s a big plus in an expensive media market. Keel, however, is a disciplined candidate who has been hammering Bolton as too liberal for the district. She also has better name identification than most challengers. Her brotherin-law, Terry Keel, represented the district for five terms before stepping down in 2006. \(He’s now parliamentarian for House seems to be anyone’s race. DISTRICT 52 Bryan IlDIf Democrats are to reclaim the Texas House, Diana Maldonado has to win this historically Republican district in the booming suburbs north of Austin. The seat is being vacated by toll-road king Rep. off with Bryan Daniel, a conservative Republican and insurance executive from Georgetown. This is a toss-up race. Both candidates are running aggressive campaigns and can point to fundamentals in their favor. The suburbs have been slipping away from the GOP little by little, but Daniel believes the district is still conservative enough for him to campaign on the Republican standbys of lower taxes, less government, and a dash of anti-immigrant sentiment. In one campaign mailer, the man-with-two-firstnames broadcasts his support for “requiring voters to show a valid ID!’ Voter ID legislation is popular with Republicans. Genevieve Van Cleve, Maldonado’s campaign manager, says too much focus on social issues and sideshows like voter ID is a losing strategy. Instead, Maldonado, a former president of the Round Rock ISD school board, is pounding pocketbook issues, presumably a rich vein given the nation’s wrenching economic crisis. “People are talking about the price of their mortgage,” Van Cleve says. “People are talking about whether they can send their kids to college … and whether they’re getting a fair shake from their government.” Both campaigns say the race will be won by knocking on doors and making phone calls to voters. The Maldonado campaign is aggressively targeting Republican women and independents, a slice of the district’s population they believe is key to victory. Thirty days before Election Day, Maldonado is trouncing Daniel in the money game. She has raked in almost $230,000 to his $85,000. More important, Maldonado has a significant edge in cash on hand: $278,000 to his $19,000. DISTRICT 78 \(21Democrats call El Paso’s District 78 the most Democratic Republican district in Texas. The race to turn this red district blue won’t come cheap, however. Republican Dee Margo has already raised more than $700,000 for his campaign since last January, one of the biggest war chests in the state. Margo’s haul vastly overshadows Democrat Joe Moody’s $211,000 in campaign funds. Both men enjoy significant name recognition in the district. Margo, 56, ran an expensive but unsuccessful campaign in 2006 against state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh. Moody is the 27-year-old son of longtime El Paso District Judge Bill Moody. Joe Moody, an assistant district attorney, is highlighting Margo’s close ties to George W. Bush and the Republican status quo. Margo has spent the campaign distancing himself from the president’s beleaguered administration. But Margo hasn’t separated himself from Bush entirely. In August he drove his friend Karl Rove to an El Paso fundraiser for Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. They were met by groups of protestors chanting, “Hey ho, Karl Rove must go!” and “Karl Rove is a war pig!” A video clip quickly made the rounds on YouTube. Margo, CEO of an insurance company, has tried to paint his opponent as too young and inexperienced for the Legislature. Recently Margo dredged up entries from Joe Moody’s nowdefunct blog and e-mailed them to District 78 voters. The entries detail the young Moody’s deliberations over staying in El Paso to run for office or leaving for Ohio to start a music career. Whether YouTube videos and blog entries will sway voters is still unknown. What is certain is that winning District 78 will depend on the power of each candidate to turn out voters. In a district that is just 50.8 percent Republican, Moody hopes an energized Democratic turnout will deliver him the margin to win in November. DISTRICT 85 In a vast swath of West Texas and the Panhandle stretching from Abilene to Dalhart, freshman Joe Heflin is the sole Democratic legislator. Lonely as it is, Heflin, a lawyer from Crosbyton, is working hard to keep OCTOBER 17, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19