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Democrat Mihaela Plesa appears to win suburban Plano seat for Texas state house

Plesa Door Knocking
Jacob Wells
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Mihaela Plesa appears to have won the House District 70 Texas statehouse seat. She ran as a Democrat.

Preliminary results show that Democrat Mihaela Plesa won the new Texas statehouse seat for House District 70, beating Republican Jamee Jolly by 821 votes.

The Collin County Elections Department showed that Plesa got 29,538 votes compared to 28,717 for Jolly. Those were the "accumulated totals, unofficial final" results.

District 70 used to include parts of McKinney, but it shifted during redistricting and now covers parts of Plano, Allen and Richardson. The redrawn district is evenly split politically — a September poll conducted by EMC research shows that President Joe Biden’s favorability was at 50/50 in the district.

Plesa’s platform focused on abortion rights, public funding for education, property taxes and healthcare access. She said those issues reach people on both sides of the aisle.

“These are the things people care about,” she said.

Abortion access post Roe v. Wade being overturned was a motivating factor for voters. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found last month that half of voters say the Supreme Court’s decision has motivated them to vote — and more than three-quarters of those voters say they’re voting for candidates who want to protect abortion access.

Plesa said abortion access is one of the issues she wants to bring up during the legislative session. The Democratic representative spent the past four years working as the legislative director for Texas state house member Ray Lopez from San Antonio. She said her experience and institutional knowledge will benefit her constituents.

“They need someone who will be ready on day one,” she said.

Collin County is historically Republican. The county went for Trump in 2020 and every other Republican on the ballot. But Caleb Milne, the Collin County Democratic Party’s vice chair, said the Republican led Texas legislature didn’t account for Democratic growth in Collin County like they did in other North Texas counties.

“In Collin County, they were, for lack of a better term, much more arrogant with how they approached us,” Milne said. “And they tried to create these more even districts all across it instead of creating a true safety valve.”

He said that lack of safety valve gave Democrats an opening.

Abraham George, the chair of the Collin County Republican Party, said prior to the election that Democrats have spent years putting money into Collin County races. But he said he didn’t expect Democrats to prevail because of the impact of inflation, an issue Jamee Jolly ran on.

“Christmas is coming,” George said. “Thanksgiving is coming. People are strapped.”

But Milne said the Republican party no longer represents the values of most Texans.

“We align much more closely with people now than the Republicans do,” he said.

Official results won’t be available until all absentee ballots have been counted. Absentee ballots for military voters and U.S. citizens overseas that arrive by Monday Nov. 14 will be counted according to an October memo from the Texas Secretary of State’s office. Other mail-in ballots must be postmarked on election day to be counted.

Got a tip? Email Caroline Love at clove@kera.org.

Caroline Love is a Report For America corps member for KERA News.

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Caroline Love covers Collin County for KERA and is a member of the Report for America corps. Previously, Caroline covered daily news at Houston Public Media. She has a master's degree from Northwestern University with an emphasis on investigative social justice journalism. During grad school, she reported three feature stories for KERA. She also has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas Christian University and interned with KERA's Think in 2019.