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UTEP Professor Sheds Light On Heated District 78 State Rep. Race

Greg Rocha, political science professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, will be watching the November 2012 election closely for the District 78 Texas House seat.

Current Rep. Dee Margo will be facing off against attorney Joe Moody for the third time.

“We’ve seen in the last two elections it’s been a fairly close race between the two,” said Rocha.

Moody won against Margo in 2008 by about 7 percentage points. Then in 2010, Margo unseated Moody by about 5 percentage points.

Rocha said of the upcoming 2012 election, “Just like it was for Dee Margo in 2010, this is pretty much do or die for Joe Moody. The longer someone stays in office, the more difficult it is to defeat them in an election.”

Rocha said District 78 is unique because it has a “fairly long history” of being held by a Republican candidate, even though it is still “an overwhelmingly Hispanic, Democratic district.”

Undecided voters will likely be the deciding factor, Rocha said.

“They surely moved very strongly to the Republican party in 2010,” he said.

However, since 2012 is a presidential election year, “more people are going to come out. That probably means more Democrats, and that may mean more straight-ticket voters,” Rocha said.

ABC-7 sought out Dee Margo in Austin. He sent a statement saying, “I welcome the race and look forward to comparing our records advocating for District 78 and El Paso, as well as learning from Joe what has changed since he ran on his record in the past and lost.”

Moody also had sharp words when ABC-7 stopped by his campaign kickoff party in downtown El Paso.

“I think there are two records to compare: a record of effective representation that we took to the 81st (legislative) session and came out with major legislation passed. (I was) named Freshman Legislator of the Year by two different groups. I think you can compare that with Mr. Margo’s record of not delivering anything for this district.”

Two additional factors to keep an eye on as November approaches are campaign funding and the redistricting process. New maps designating districts have been drawn up but are being challenged in the courts. Rocha said the 2010 race between Margo and Moody became one of the priciest in the state.

“One never knows what could happen during these races,” said Rocha.

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