Rally defends close election

AUSTIN, Texas — Supporters of Rep. Hubert Vo rallied Jan. 11 at the state Capitol here to demand that the legislature respect Vo’s 31-vote election victory over incumbent Republican Talmadge Heflin.

Vo, who won the race for Legislature from District 149 in West Houston, also won two subsequent recounts. But Heflin, a 20-year veteran of the legislature who chaired the Appropriations Committee, asked his colleagues to nullify Vo’s victory. A hearing on the request was scheduled for Jan. 27 but at press time there had been no ruling.

Vo, a Vietnamese immigrant, ran a campaign based on racial and ethnic unity, with his main themes making health care more accessible and improving public education.

“We registered people who had never been registered to vote before — people living in [government subsidized] housing, ex-felons who served their time and had their rights restored, new citizens — and then we got them to the polls on Election Day,” Richard Leal of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, told the demonstrators.

“When they voted,” he said, “they voted for health care, they voted for education, they voted for Hubert Vo.”

Vo’s multiethnic coalition turned out in force for the rally. Three busloads of supporters — Vietnamese, Latinos, Arabs, Chinese, Korean, African American and white — came to Austin for the rally. At the podium steelworkers from Houston held the boxes containing petitions with more than 3,000 signatures in support of upholding the election results.

After Heflin filed his request, two other GOP losers in state House races asked to have their defeats overturned as well. But both withdrew their requests when they learned that they would be required to provide evidence of voter fraud.