District Overview: The Numbers, The Issues, and the Candidates
This race is of critical importance this year — one of the truly contested races. To learn more about the race, I'd recommend regularly following Eye on Williamson, a superb political blog that focuses most of its attention just on Williamson County races.
Williamson County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state, with great public schools, a short commute to Austin and a supply of top-notch tech jobs anchored by Dell's international headquarters in District 52. To that end, Rep. Maldonado, the former President of the Round Rock School Board, has a history of community service that predates her election to the Legislature. And since her election, she has done a lot and she’ll be working to communicate her successes to voters. She’s secured funding for the construction of the Eastern Williamson Co. Higher Education Center, which will house in-district campuses for many of the large state universities and funding for the construction of FM1460, an additional road for congestion that will also service the new Education Center. Tangible, concrete projects like these, and her expertise in education issues, have been Maldanado's focus in office and in her campaign. Gonzales, on the other hand, will do his best to keep these local achievements out of voters minds by nationalizing the issues in a tough year for Democrats.
District 52 is located entirely within Williamson County, include the swiftly developing southern Williamson County cities of Round Rock and Hutto, as well as parts of far northwest Austin along US 183. These areas are rapdily being populated by a more diverse electorate seeking affordable housing that is becoming harder to find in central Austin, and that trend is reflected in the district's politics. HD 52 also includes a slice of Georgetown and rural towns including Hutto, Taylor and Thrall. Traditionally a conservative strong-hold, a Republican had held this seat for 16 consecutive years until Maldonado won in 2008 by a slim margin. Obama lost the district in 2008 with 48.5% of the vote, another indication that the influx of new residents into the district as these suburbs expand is drastically changing the demographics.
Why Rep. Dianal Maldonado Will Return Next Year
Rep. Maldonado is well-liked in her district by those who don’t vote straight ticket Republican and she has a strong team in place. She’s also got the resources to run a tough campaign and the rapidly evolving district demographics point to a slight but steadily uphill trend for the Democrats. Gonzales seems to be relying on the district's past voting history and a tough national climate to bring down Maldonado. If the national climate is too much to overcome, Gonzales could win. If Maldanado and the Democrats can truly break through the noise and communicate the choice in the election to voters, Maldonado will win. This one will go down to the wire.
June 30 Campaign Finance Report:
|HD 52: Maldonado vs. Gonzales||Contributions
||Cash on Hand
|Rep. Diana Maldonado (D)
|Larry Gonzales (R)
||$31,494 – Gonzales||–||$131,054 – Maldonado