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Republicans regain Williamson House seat as Gonzales beats Maldonado

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 by Mark Richardson

Democratic office-holders are fairly rare in Williamson County, and it will apparently stay that way, as Republican challenger Larry Gonzales easily chased one-term incumbent Democrat Diana Maldonado from the District 52 seat in the Texas House of Representatives.


In what had been a tough campaign, with both sides running attack ads against the other, Gonzales took about 58 percent of the district’s vote to Maldonado’s 38 percent with most of the ballots counted. Libertarian Charles McCoy polled about 4 percent.


Gonzales ran as a conservative, and said those were the values that appealed to the district’s voters, who live primarily in the southeastern part of Williamson County. District 52 includes the cities of Round Rock, Hutto, Taylor and parts of Georgetown and far North Austin.


“We stuck to our message in this campaign and got good results,” he said. “We had some phenomenal people working for us. We ran a hard campaign, using both social media and good old shoe leather to get our message out there.”


Maldonado, who won the seat with slightly less than a 1 percent margin in 2008, conceded the contest about 9:30pm, congratulating Gonzales on his win and urging him to make good on the promises he made during the campaign.


Maldonado, who worked for the Comptroller’s Office for 20 years, was president of the Round Rock School Board prior to winning the House seat. She sat on the Defense & Veteran’s Affairs and State Affairs committees in the House during the 2009 session. She authored or co-authored a number of bills, mostly affecting education, but she also introduced several bills pertaining to consumer protection.


She took a great deal of criticism from her opponent for opposing the Arizona state law that allowed police to routinely check for citizenship papers, and supported a boycott of Arizona over the issue.


Gonzales, who has owned Lazarus Graphics in Round Rock since 1996 and has also worked as a political advisor and consultant, said he plans to take his conservative principles with him to the Legislature in January. He asserted that while he planned to use his business experience in helping run the state, he would never vote to raise taxes during a recession. He also said he plans to back programs that would create jobs and invest in the state’s school system.


His campaign ads repeatedly accused Maldonado of backing property tax increases and having poor attendance on her Legislative committee assignments. Maldonado shot back in her ads, calling Gonzales a political insider and a lobbyist, a claim he denied. She had also run on her background in education, and criticized his claim that he was the best candidate to make education policy.


The campaign had an unusual episode in August, when the Williamson County Democratic Party Chairman, Greg Windham, resigned his post to endorse Gonzales. Windham, who had been at odds with other party leaders for almost the entire seven months he was in office, said he switched sides because he believed that Maldonado was too liberal, and was not listening to her constituents.


Windham was welcomed with open arms by Williamson County’s GOP organization, while local Democrats said they were happy to see him go.

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