Update: Donna Imam won the runoff election, according to the Associated Press. In a separate Democrat runoff, Chrysta Castaneda won the Democrat spot for Texas Railroad commissioner.
Computer engineer Donna Imam, a political newcomer, will likely be the Democrat to face Republican U.S. Rep. John Carter for Texas’ 31st Congressional District in November.
Imam led Dr. Christine Eady Mann, a Cedar Park physician, 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent in unofficial voting results as of 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Imam was the second top vote-getter in the March 3 primary. She garnered 30.7 percent of the vote to Mann’s 34.7 percent.
Imam, 44, is hoping to deny Carter, 78, his 10th term.
Carter narrowly won his current term after defeating Air Force veteran MJ Hegar by 3 points in 2018. That was Carter’s smallest margin of victory since the district — which now only covers Bell and Williamson counties — was created in 2002.
“So we’re going to be able to close the gap,” Imam previously told the Telegram. “Williamson County already went blue in 2018. You can’t win this district unless you close the gap in Bell County. That is the key to flipping this district.”
In 2018, Bell County backed Carter 56.8 percent to Hegar’s 41.8 percent. The Round Rock Republican lost Williamson County by 1.6 points.
“The campaign that is going to be able to close the gap and win this district is the campaign that can get out the vote in Bell County,” Imam said. “This race will be won and lost in Bell County — mark my words.”
Carter told the Telegram Tuesday he is ready for the Nov. 3 election.
“This election is a pivotal moment for the future of Texas and the country. From getting our economy back on track after COVID, to taking care of the brave soldiers and veterans who defend our freedoms, to keeping our communities safe, I will continue fighting for Bell and Williamson counties in Congress,” the congressman said. “While we’ve accomplished many victories for Texas’ 31st District, there’s still more work to be done and I look forward to earning the vote of my neighbors on November 3rd.”
Should Imam’s lead over Mann remain, the computer engineer heads into the general election as an underdog.
The Cook Political Report — an independent, non-partisan newsletter — rated the district as “Likely Republican.”
Carter has outraised Imam. For every $1 Imam has raised, Carter has brought it more than $3. Through March 31, the incumbent collected $1,351,115 and spent $766,702, according to his campaign finance reports. He had $839,118 in cash on hand.
Imam has brought in $433,470, which includes $233,470 in contributions and loaning her campaign $200,000, according to campaign finance reports from June 24. She has spent $272,462 and has $161,008 in cash on hand.
Despite those hurdles, the Democratic Congressional Committee has targeted District 31 in an attempt to flip it from red to blue.
“Texans are ready for change and M.J. Hegar’s 2018 run showed that a strong Democratic nominee can compete in TX-31,” DCCC spokesman Avery Jaffe said in March. “These primary results show Democrats across Williamson and Bell counties are energized and the ultimate Democratic nominee will be well-positioned to win this fall.”