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Hinojosa wins House District 49 race

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 by Jo Clifton

Democrat Gina Hinojosa, 42, won a decisive victory last night against six other candidates vying to take the place of retiring state Rep. Elliott Naishtat. Hinojosa will be the first woman and the first Hispanic person to represent House District 49 when she is sworn in next January. Since no Republican ran for this heavily Democratic part of Austin, Hinojosa will run unopposed in the general election in November.

Hinojosa, an attorney, is serving her fourth year as a member of the Austin Independent School District board. She was president of the board until she stepped down from that position to run for the House seat last fall. She is the daughter of the chair of the Texas Democratic Party, Gilberto Hinojosa, and she and her husband, attorney John Donisi, have two children: Matteo, 10, and Pablo, 4.

Hinojosa took a commanding lead in the Democratic primary race as the early vote was counted Tuesday night. She had 55.4 percent of the early ballots, and her total increased to nearly 57 percent as the ballots from Tuesday’s voting were counted.

Hinojosa told the Austin Monitor, “We have too few women in the Texas House. It’s astonishing, really, how few women we have. I am honored to hold that distinction, but mostly I am honored to be considered an appropriate person to succeed Elliott Naishtat, who is dearly beloved in this community for his 26 years of dedicated, real, honest public service. I’m honored that the voters would consider me an appropriate successor to him.”

Naishtat attended Hinojosa’s victory party Tuesday night, as did supporters such as County Commissioner Brigid Shea and former Council Member Laura Morrison.

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Heather Way, a University of Texas Law School professor, came in a distant second with just under 19 percent of the vote, and Huey Rey Fischer, a former aide to State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, came in third with about 14 percent of the vote.

Hinojosa got the vast majority of endorsements, including the Austin American-Statesman, The Austin Chronicle, and (at the last minute) The Daily Texan, as well as AFSCME Local 1624, Education Austin, Workers Defense Action Fund, numerous Democratic clubs and Clean Water Action.

Other candidates included Blake Rocap, Matthew Shrum, Aspen Dunaway and Kenton Johnson, all of whom are attorneys and all of whom scored in the single digits.

Hinojosa said she would continue to serve on the school board until her term expires in December. She will take her seat in the House in January.

Photo of Texas Capitol by Phil Roeder made available through a Creative Commons license.

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