Election results should continue to trickle in through the evening, but Team Chronicle is going to bed. Long day ahead tomorrow spent tabulating and compiling. Grab a copy of Thursday's issue for a full rundown.
9:40pm: County Races
In the race for County Commissioner Precinct 4, Margaret Gómez continues to enjoy a comfortable lead over Susannah Woody. Across town in the race for Justice of the Peace Precinct 3, incumbent Susan Steeg has thus far seen voters turn out for challenger Sylvia Holmes, who appears headed for victory. And in the tight race for Democratic Party chair, Dyana Limon-Mercado maintains a 500 vote lead over Anne Wynne. That one may go until the end of the night. – N.H.
9:40pm: CD 10: One plus One up in the Air
In CD 10, the Austin to Katy district held by deep-pocketed GOP incumbent Michael McCaul, City of Austin attorney Mike Siegel looked headed to a run-off with either Cypress RN Tawana Walter-Cadien or Katy attorney Tami Walker. Siegel said he was happy with his lead – at 8,700 votes his nearest competitor, Walter-Cadien, had 3,300, although Walker was not far behind at 3,200. "We might have a late surge," said Siegel, "but realistically I'm expecting about 45-47%, meaning heading into the run-off." He said he was "fortunate to be an Austin candidate in an Austin-heavy turnout," and that whoever wins needs to "run the whole district, appeal to traditional Democrats as well as folks in the middle." – M.K.
9:15pm: Judicial Races
Chantal Eldridge has opened her lead a little, but the other front-runners Nancy Hohengarten, John Lipscombe, and Aurora Martinez Jones all appear to be holding rather steady, with the first round of election day totals showing slight reversions to the middle for all three. Still only Martinez Jones looks to be slated for a run-off; she currently holds a 9-point lead over Maya Guerra Gamble in the race for the 459th District Court. – C.H.
9:15pm: CD 25: Toward a Run-off
As in CD 21, a May Democratic primary run-off looks very likely in CD 25, the Austin to Fort Worth district currently held by GOP incumbent Roger Williams. In the early totals, as of 9pm, 17 of 1,092 precincts, Chris Perri leads with about 8,000 votes, Julie Oliver is in second with just over 6,000, and those two names look likely to appear on the run-off ballot.
Trailing are Kathi Thomas (4,600), West Hansen (2,500), and Chetan Panda (2,000).
Commented Perri, “I think it’s great; I couldn’t ask for anything better. I know there’s going to be a run-off, and Julie’s a fine candidate.” Oliver was more cautious, insisting, “I’m hesitant to put the cart before the horse. But if this is where the night ends up, I repeat: I have immense gratitude for the voters, and for everyone who has helped support this campaign. – M.K.
8:46pm: CD 21: Run-off Looming
Based on the very early returns – E-Votes trickling in from across a sprawling district – “There’s absolutely going to be a run-off” in CD 21, said Derrick Crowe, and at least from about only 1% of the vote, reported at 8:30pm, that seemed very likely, although the survivors were not yet assured.
Joseph Kopser was leading with about 8,700 votes, Mary Wilson was a surprising second with 7,900, Crowe third with 6,800, and Elliott McFadden trailing the field with about 4,800.
Wilson said, “I’m a mathematician and I know things can change, but I’m very excited to be competitive and in the race early.” Kopser praised the turnout as “beyond anyone’s dreams and great for democracy,” and said he’s “very optimistic.”
Only McFadden seemed somewhat resigned to his early total. He said Kopser’s funding advantage led the field, and in light of the #MeToo movement, he was not surprised by Wilson’s early support. “The progressive activist candidates – Crowe and I – are splitting that vote, and if the pattern holds, I don’t see how we can make it up in election day votes.” – M.K.
Asked a couple of county dems if it’s melodramatic to call the @TCDP chair race a “battle for the soul of the party.” Answer an emphatic “no.”— Nina Hernandez (@neenthirteen) March 7, 2018
.@GinaForAustin says after the primary it’s time to stop party infighting. “We are one family and we have to work together to get the vote out.” She says dems have to unite to elect a democratic speaker of the house. Possibly @CeliaIsrael pic.twitter.com/Oplg2HQEA3— Austin Sanders (@squanders) March 7, 2018
Caught up with @AnneSWynne campaign manager Justin Perez. Said they’re “staying positive” and awaiting final numbers. “Both women in the race are very qualified; it will be great for the party either way.”— Nina Hernandez (@neenthirteen) March 7, 2018
Statewide and Congress
Statewide races take a little while longer to come together, but we can already call a few victories. Not surprisingly, that includes Beto O’Rourke in the race for U.S. Senate. With 1% reporting, he’s holding 64% of the vote, and should avoid a run-off no problem. Lupe Valdez appears to have a rather commanding lead over Andrew White in the race for governor, with 49% of the vote to White’s 24.6%. If she can get to 50%, she too can avoid a run-off. (Should be tough.)
In the race for lieutenant governor, the Michaels are keeping it close. Mike Collier currently has a 6-point lead over Michael Cooper. We’ll see how that one shakes out. (The evil lord Dan Patrick is running away with that race in the GOP. He’s up 53 points over Scott Milder.)
And in Congress, Rick Kennedy is up 30 points over Dale Mantey in CD 17; Joseph Kopser has a thin lead in the four-horse race for CD 21. (Mary Wilson surprisingly is in second, with 28%.) Mike Siegel appears to have the inside position in the race for CD 21 (44%), though he’ll need a bit of a boost to avoid a run-off. And Chris Perri leads those in CD 25; his 35% edges Julie Oliver, who’s second with 36%. – C.H.
The Texas Lege
Early votes for Travis County are in, and it’s neck and neck for former Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and immigration lawyer Jose “Chito” Vela in House District 46. Both candidates earned around 39% of the vote and some change, with Vela in a razor-thin lead by only 50 votes. (We smell a run-off…) That means it’s all but officially goodbye to longtime incumbent Rep. Dawnna Dukes, who suffered controversy and poor attendance in her recent tenure at the Capitol. Meanwhile, veteran Steve Kling leads in Republican Sen. Donna Campbell’s Senate District 25 over challenger Jack Guerra by 7%, while real estate agent Vikki Goodwin inches by her closest competitor AFSCME director Elaina Fowler in GOP Rep. Paul Workman’s House District 47 by roughly 7% as well. Stay tuned! – Mary Tuma
Early returns are in, and it looks like it’ll be a quick night in three of the county’s courtrooms. County Court-at-Law No. 5 incumbent Nancy Hohengarten has a commanding lead over her two opponents, with 71% of the early vote. Fellow incumbent John Lipscombe holds an early 23-point edge over challenger Paul Quinzi for the bench in CCL3. And shocking as though it may be, defense attorney Chantal Eldridge holds a 34-point lead over 331st District Court incumbent David Crain. The only close one right now is in the new 459th District Court, where Aurora Martinez Jones holds a 9-point lead over Maya Guerra Gamble. Third challenger Greg Hitt appears destined for an early night, with 17%. – Chase Hoffberger
Elsewhere around the county, incumbent Margaret Gómez easily took the early vote with 68% in the race for County Commissioner Precinct 4. Challenger Susanna Woody, a Del Valle ISD trustee, earned just 32%. In the contentious race for Justice of the Peace Precinct 3, challenger Sylvia Holmes is leading incumbent Susan Steeg 60-40. The race to replace Vincent Harding as chair of the Travis County Democratic Party appears the closest of the bunch; Dyana Limon-Mercado leads local attorney Anne Wynne by just a few hundred votes. – Nina Hernandez
Early voting totals in Travis County show @chitovela3 and @SherylColeATX neck and neck for #HD46 -- 39% and some change, w/ @vela slightly ahead #TX2018 #txlege #austin #atxvotes pic.twitter.com/OeWSfKd0pY— Mary Tuma (@TumaTime) March 7, 2018
Cautious optimism was the order of the afternoon, a few hours prior to the arrival of the first returns in the Democratic primary. Candidates remained largely in full campaign mode, touring polling stations in search of the last accumulating voters, in hopes of either winning outright of making a run-off.
Joseph Kopser, the “centrist” by reputation and campaign in CD 21, said he was prepared for every outcome – “win outright, get into a run-off, or lose” – and said he had been “superexcited” by the response and enthusiasm throughout the district. “We ran a positive campaign, and believe we connected with many voters – but you never know until election day how many people you’ve actually reached.”
Elliott McFadden, also in CD 21, noted that it appeared a majority of voters hit the polls early, so election night might be an anti-climax. He said Travis County was the Democratic anchor, so the candidates need to do well there – “so it might be that whoever can also carry weight at the other end of the district in Bexar County would have an advantage.”
Derrick Crowe said he was expecting a “very close finish,” and a good chance of a run-off, likely to come from two of Kopser, McFadden, and himself. (The fourth contender is Mary Wilson.) “I think whoever built the best organization,” said Crowe, “is likely to be rewarded.”
Over in CD 25 – stretching from West Austin all the way up to the Fort Worth suburbs – Chris Perri and Julie Oliver both expressed a cautious optimism, although hesitating to jinx the outcome with an outright prediction. Like several candidates, Perri said the outcome is unusually clouded by so many new voters – roughly 30% is the general estimate – “we’re glad for the enthusiasm and turnout, but it makes it hard to know what will happen.”
Oliver said she is trying “not to be a fortuneteller,” but that “whatever happens, I’ve been filled all day with a great sense of gratitude” – for her volunteers and donors, for the voters, for everyone she’s met on the campaign trail. “It’s been such an amazing journey,” she said. “So many people willing to share their support, and their personal stories.” Also in the CD 25 race (for a seat currently held by GOP Rep. Roger Williams) are West Hansen, Chetan Panda, and Kathi Thomas.
6:30pm: Well, here we are: the first official checkpoint on the road to the 2018 midterms. Early voting has been up among Democrats throughout this election cycle (not that that’s saying much), and we’re eager to see whether that’s continued through election day. Those early voting totals should post to the county clerk’s website at 7pm. Anybody here early can scope out our election season reporting. Otherwise, stay with us for continuing coverage.
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