Primary Election Night: A Roundup

Travis County: Lopsided

Long before all the ballots were counted Tuesday night, incumbent Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe and two fellow County Commissioners were already delivering sound defeats of their Democratic opponents.

Despite a series of political setbacks for the Commissioners Court in the last year -- the most serious being the costly construction failures of the new Criminal Justice Center -- Democratic primary voters opted to keep the three re-election seekers in place, at least for this general election. As of late Tuesday, with 99% of the votes tallied, Biscoe had 77% of the vote over opponent Richard McCain; Biscoe faces Republican Bob Honts in November. In Pct. 4, Commissioner Margaret Gomez collected 70% of the vote over Barbara Cilley. And in one of the most contentious local races of the primary season, Pct. 2 Commissioner Karen Sonleitner garnered a clear victory over Jeff Heckler, with 73%.

On the Republican ticket, Pct. 3 candidate Gerald Daugherty walloped Ira Yates by a wide margin throughout the evening in the heavily GOP precinct. Daugherty will oppose current Commissioner Margaret Moore, a Democrat, in the fall. Also, Sonleitner will square off against Republican victor, lifelong Austinite Sheri Perry Gallo, who whipped Roger Settler with 67% of the vote.

Amidst the hectic ballot-central at the Crockett Center, Sonleitner and Gallo both vowed to stick to the issues without resorting to the negative campaigning that had characterized the Sonleitner-Heckler battle. "It got real nasty toward the end, but we didn't respond," said Sonleitner of Heckler's last-minute mailers. "I think he and others went at this as though it were a City Council election instead of a Democratic primary."

Daugherty, who led the opposition against the city's light rail referendum, said he intends to campaign on the same issues he believes gave him the edge in the primary -- roads and transportation. "You just can't get rid of the mobility issues -- and there is a part of this community that agrees with me philosophically on that issue."

In the County Court-at-Law No. 7 race, Elisabeth Earle sailed to an easy victory (59% of the vote) without a runoff in the three-way race against opponents David Carlton Hughes, a trial attorney, and Evelyn McKee, the presiding Austin municipal judge. Earle is the daughter of longtime District Attorney Ronnie Earle.

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