Commissioners Court: Incumbents Stay Put
Some precinct returns reflect red discontent in blue county
Travis County voters Tuesday returned three Democratic incumbents to the Commissioners Court, with County Judge Sam Biscoe and commissioners Sarah Eckhardt and Margaret Gómez all winning by sizeable margins. Nonetheless, Biscoe and Eckhardt saw those margins dented by Republican opposition, with many boxes outside the central city going to the candidate with the "R" next to his name.
Eckhardt was among the crowd of Democrats who felt "the air getting sucked out of the room" when the early returns assaulted the television screens at the Driskill Hotel. "The blue dot is getting smaller," she said, referring to Republican inroads in large swaths of the county. "We have a lot of work to do."
Biscoe secured a fourth term with a 17-percentage-point cushion over GOP hopeful Mike McNamara. Still, McNamara's returns provided a microcosm of what local Dems can expect should Republicans begin fielding competitive candidates in one of the fastest-growing counties in Texas. Remarkably, the political unknown rode the Republican wave in several precincts in Southwest Austin – where voters ousted Democratic state Rep. Valinda Bolton – as well as in growth pockets in north and northeastern points of the county.
In Precinct 2, Eckhardt won a second term with a comfortable 59%, while GOP opponent David Buttross, who last year ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Austin, won only a handful of boxes in Pflugerville. The precinct's voting demographics include a mixture of progressive neighborhoods in Central Austin and conservative blocs to the north. Eckhardt's race was viewed as the most competitive on the Commissioners Court, due to Buttross' slightly heightened profile from his 2009 mayoral bid, plus the real estate pro's heavy saturation of campaign signs.
A quiet race played out in Precinct 4, where Gómez, who is recovering from heart surgery, earned 83% of the vote against Libertarian challenger David Dreesen. Gómez faced her toughest battle in the March Democratic primary, edging out Raul Alvarez en route to her fifth, and most likely last, term on the Commissioners Court.
Travis County Races
|Mike McNamara (R)||89,511||39%|
|Sam Biscoe (D)*||129,941||56%|
|Mark Tippetts (L)||11,470||5%|
|Amalia Rodriguez-Mendoza (D)*||143,823||79%|
|Arlo J. Pignotti (L)||37,943||21%|
|Dana DeBeauvoir (D)*||148,598||80%|
|Gillian Dreesen (L)||36,835||20%|
|Dolores Ortega Carter (D)*||142,642||78%|
|Mike Burris (L)||40,063||22%|
|County Commissioner, Precinct 2|
|David A. Buttross II (R)||23,365||36%|
|Sarah Eckhardt (D)*||37,908||59%|
|Matthew Finkel (L)||3,000||5%|
|County Commissioner, Precinct 4|
|Margaret J. Gómez (D)*||24,950||83%|
|David Dreesen (L)||5,139||17%|
|Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1|
|Yvonne M. Williams (D)*||18,671||86%|
|Adam Sparks (L)||3,001||14%|
|Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2|
|Glenn Bass (R)||36,350||50%|
|Karin Crump (D)||32,766||45%|
|Jaclyn Finkel (L)||3,700||5%|
|Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3|
|Mike Barre (R)||32,695||44%|
|Susan Steeg (D)*||38,377||51%|
|Matthew Rafacz (L)||3,553||5%|
|Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4|
|Raúl Arturo González (D)*||15,066||84%|
|John Burton (L)||2,782||16%|
|Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5|
|Herb Evans (D)*||27,853||84%|
|Michael Holt (L)||5,443||16%|
All percentages have been rounded.