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Commissioners Court: Incumbents Stay Put

Some precinct returns reflect red discontent in blue county

By Amy Smith, Fri., Nov. 5, 2010

Sarah Eckhardt
Sarah Eckhardt
Photo by John Anderson

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

County Judge
Mike McNamara (R) 89,511 39%
Sam Biscoe (D)* 129,941 56%
Mark Tippetts (L) 11,470 5%
District Clerk
Amalia Rodriguez-Mendoza (D)* 143,823 79%
Arlo J. Pignotti (L) 37,943 21%
County Clerk
Dana DeBeauvoir (D)* 148,598 80%
Gillian Dreesen (L) 36,835 20%
County Treasurer
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%
Correction: A previous version of these results incorrectly listed Karin Crump as an incumbent

*Incumbent

All percentages have been rounded.

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