News Top 10s

News Top 10s
Photo By John Anderson

Top 10 Election night moments

1. Dept. of Wishful Thinking: At 10:15pm, Democratic hopeful Tony Sanchez told a cheering crowd of Democrats at the Hyatt, "This race is a long, long, long way from being over." A few minutes earlier, incumbent Gov. Rick Perry had declared victory at the Convention Center, for the understandable reason that he had a 20-point lead with no sign of fading. By morning, Sanchez's promise to "give [Perry] hell until the last vote is counted" had become a polite concession and congratulation.

2. Tailpipe dreams: After defeating appointed incumbent Margaret Moore for the Travis Co. Commissioner Pct. 3 seat, Republican Gerald Daugherty triumphantly marched into Crockett Center accompanied by supporters chanting "No more traffic! No more traffic!" It was just too precious. We're sure that under Daugherty's guidance, we'll join the many other cities that have paved their way out of traffic woes. Now, which ones were those, again?

3. Don't look at the candidates behind the curtain: The hubris over at the Convention Center on election night was thick enough to cut with a knife. Case in point: Over in a roped-off section on victory-stage left, Republican handlers set up a curtain behind which the pachyderm candidates could meet-and-greet, and the party's most faithful (read, richest of donors) could mingle with their candidates without media scrutiny. Nonetheless, the Chronicle slipped past the handlers on four separate occasions -- long enough to watch Dewhurst, Perry, and Cornyn in backslapping celebration long before their nightly news-timed victory speeches. Our unauthorized backstage pass didn't last long. Why couldn't we be there, you ask? "Cuz I said so," replied four separate GOP coordinators. Welcome to the new government mantra.

4. The royal Abbott: Attorney General-elect Greg Abbott was so giddy at the prospect of his new position that he began talking about himself in the third person, á la Bob Dole: "It's an honor to step out on this stage and tell you, with 1 million votes counted, Greg Abbott has about 57% of the vote," Greg Abbott said. "I am glad to tell you that Greg Abbott is going to be your next attorney general." His staff had better watch out: General Abbott may require uniforms and a flourish of trumpets before every formal audience.

5. Your money's no good here: Election night found local Libertarians at the Copper Tank, where they basked in the glory of better-than-ever returns, complained about the tax-and-spend policies of both major parties, and traded free-market ideological footnotes between sips of beer. But when several Libs tried to pay for their ale with shiny, inflation-proof Liberty Dollars, the staff behind the bar rejected them. Only a handful of Austin businesses accept the silver coins, issued by the Idaho-based National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act.

6. Vote counting gone right: Travis Co. Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir promised that electronic voting could be pulled off without a hitch, and by golly, she may have been right. The eSlate machines purchased by the county seemed to work well; the only fraud allegations centered on poll workers, not the machines, and turned out to be minor and unproven. DeBeauvoir plans to go whole hog in this year's Austin municipal balloting. [updated 01-03-2003]

7. Our own private Florida: Poorly designed ballots in San Antonio and troublesome voting systems in Fort Worth delayed final vote tallies by more than a day. In the Alamo City, citizens wishing to vote straight party had to make a mark on both of the ballot's two pages, which resulted in confusion and delays and left three races hanging until late Wednesday. In Tarrant County, a human programming error in optical scan machines caused straight-party votes to fail to register, also resulting in a delay of over 30 hours.

8. Maybe next time she should go negative: In May's municipal elections, Daryl Slusher gave his Place 1 opponent Jennifer Gale a conciliatory, post-returns pep talk. Slusher: "You ran a very civil campaign." Gale, sounding a bit surprised: "Yeah, but I still lost!"

9. Ah, dignity: While other Republicans partied Downtown on election night, Dist. 48 candidate Todd Baxter spent the entire evening at the Crockett Center (where the votes were being tallied), posing for innumerable pictures with his tiny newborn baby. When the last votes were counted and he officially defeated incumbent Rep. Ann Kitchen, the still air rang with Baxter's frat-boy whoops.

10. Or maybe the problem is just Bob Honts: Seton Motley, campaign manager for GOP Travis Co. judge aspirant Bob Honts, could not conceal his shock that Travis voters would actually reject his guy in favor of incumbent Sam Biscoe. (Perhaps he thought voters were too young to remember Honts' odious and ethically challenged record as the courthouse's road warrior two decades ago.) "I guess it's still a Democratic county," he murmured as he slunk into the night. Uh, yeah. For the record, in Central and East Austin, Honts -- and most every other GOP candidate -- lost by margins of more than 40 points.

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