Precinct 3 Upset

Huber ousts Daugherty

Travis Co. Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, after a stunning upset by Karen Huber
Travis Co. Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, after a stunning upset by Karen Huber (Photo by John Anderson)

"I'm excited because the people are excited!" beamed Karen Huber on election night. In what the Democratic challenger characterized as a victory for the environment, controls on growth, and better transportation planning in southwest Travis County, Huber unseated Republican Gerald Daugherty as Travis County commissioner for Precinct 3 in a three-way race; it's likely Daugherty could have retained his seat if not for Libertarian Wes Benedict, who nabbed 7,088 votes. With all 64 precincts reported, Huber won the seat by a slim but decisive 2,986 votes. That makes the Democrats five-for-five on Travis Co. Commissioner Court seats, including Judge Sam Biscoe.

At the Driskill Hotel party, Huber said that "traffic congestion alone" was enough to explain voter turnout in her favor. Her campaign manager, Mary Ann Neely, said voters had seen the downside of the "totally unregulated growth" favored by Daugherty. Both she and Huber thought the pollution and degradation of Lick Creek, Bee Creek, and Hamilton Pool had served as wake-up calls to voters, raising awareness that a change in county commissioner was necessary to get better water-quality regulations. "And she's really talked about transit seriously," Neely noted.

"If people understood what [future new developments] had already been approved, without adequate transportation planning and infrastructure, they'd be horrified!" said Huber with what was left of her voice late Tuesday night. "We're killing the golden goose if we don't protect the beauty of our natural Hill Country." As commissioner, she said, she's most excited about swiftly crafting new informal land-use agreements (in the absence of county regulatory powers) to protect the precinct, which includes all of Lake Travis and nearly half of Travis County. She also hopes to more broadly use and test existing statutes that give counties power to protect residents' "health, safety, and well-being" as a means of regulatory control. "I don't think elected officials should be held hostage by threats of lawsuits," she noted.

Huber won in early voting with more than 50% of the vote. Daugherty returned serve with an Election Day lead of 52%, but it wasn't enough to maintain the seat he first won in 2002. Daugherty's campaign chair, Mistie Davis, still was not conceding defeat when reached after 11pm, due to conflicts between vote totals reported online and on TV news. In the end, it was Benedict who helped win the race for Huber, capturing just over 5% of the total vote.

EarlyElection DayTotal
Gerald Daugherty48,178 (44.8%)16,515 (51.8%)64,693 (46.4%)
Karen Huber54,780 (50.9%)12,899 (40.4%)67,679 (48.5%)
Wes Benedict4,604 (4.3%)2,484 (7.8%)7,088 (5.1%)
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Karen Huber, Gerald Daugherty, Wes Benedict, election

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