Republican grip on Williamson County loosens

Posted in Commentary, Election 2006, Williamson County at 10:03 am by dembones

After a grueling night of unfolding ballots and clearing optical scanner jams, Williamson County elections officials have posted final unofficial results. The news for Democrats is not all bad. Diane Henson has defeated Will Wilson for Place 3 on the 3rd Court of Appeals. She joins Jan Patterson on the court.

All the Democrats running in Williamson County and statewide were defeated. The Republican margin of victory in Williamson is narrowing, however. Karen Felthauser gave toll road warrior Mike Krusee a scare, who clung to a 50 percent to 45 percent margin of victory. Brig Mireles, despite being outspent $58,000 to $8,000, grabbed 44 percent of the vote in County Commission precinct 3 4.

Jim Coronado and Bree Buchanan were able to take more than 40 percent of the vote in Williamson. Had these candidates been able to pull within four points of their Republican opponents, they would have won the seats. Let it be known that the Republican-dominated court, determined to be the lazyiest court of appeals in the state, is in place entirely because of Republicans in Williamson county. Evidently, they only want cases heard 12 days each year and like a court that has the lowest clearance rate in the state. All we can hope is that some Republicans who supported those do-nothings end up with cases languishing before the 3rd Court of Appeals so they can see how their blind allegiance to a declining and corrupt party is drowning our state’s courts.

Mary Beth Harrell ran a superlative campaign for United States Congress with barely one-fifth the cash of PAC-enriched Republican incumbent John Carter. She lost by 19 points, 58 percent to 39 percent. 55 percent of the votes in the 31st district come from Williamson County. Harrell was the best-performing Democrat in Williamson County, netting 38 percent of the vote. Outside of Williamson, Harrell got 40 percent of the vote.

It is too early draw too much analysis out of Harrell’s result, except to say that she is the type of candidate Democrats need to keep putting before the voters in Williamson County. In yesterday’s results we see that Republicans in Williamson County are largely unwilling to vote for a Democrat even when the evidence is overwhelming that she is the better choice; however, that reflexive anti-Democrat tilt is beginning to soften.

John Carter returns to the House of Representatives a member of the minority party. Democrats nationwide have taken control of the House and may well have taken the Senate also. Williamson County is ground zero for the most fantical of the hard-line right-wingers; but the lead is slipping away.

In 2002, Democratic candidates attracted only 28% of the vote. In 2004, it was 34%. Yesterday, Harrell earned 38%. Although this progression amounts to “three yards and a cloud of dust”, the Democrats are on a trajectory to break through in the next six years. I believe as the scales become more balanced, the quality of government in Williamson county will improve.

Only under safe, one-party control can the sort of corruption that has dominated Williamson County politics for decades run free. With two parties at almost-equal strength, the level of honesty of our elected officials will increase exponentially.

Democrats are doing our part to reach this level playing field. Republicans need to join us in demanding honesty from our elected officials. Maybe in the next two years, we can come together and make this a reality much sooner and with a great deal less vitriol.


  1. Susan Garry said,

    November 8, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    Not to nitpick, but Brig did very well on a small budget in Pct. 4, not 3. And Karen’s numbers seem to be the high-water mark for totals in Williamson Co. Paul Burka has singled out her race for notice on the burkablog, as I’m pasting in below. Thanks for all your coverage. Quoting Burka:

    Wait till next year (R seats the Ds have a chance to win in 08):
    In Houston: Jim Murphy 55.76%, Kristi Thibaut 41.76%
    In Grand Prairie: Kirk England 49.15%, Kathy Hubener 48.07%
    In Dallas: Tony Goolsby 51.94%, Harriet Miller 45.81%
    In Arlington: Bill Zedler 52.47%, Christopher Youngblood 44.29%
    In Stephenville: Sid Miller 55.37%, Ernie Casbeer 44.63%
    In Round Rock: Mike Krusee 50.19%, Karen Feltenhaus 47.59%
    In Mauriceville: Mike Hamilton 55.92%, Paul Clayton 44.08%

  2. dembones said,

    November 8, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    Thanks for catching my goof on Brig’s precinct. I wrote that on severe sleep deprivation.

    Also, Mary Beth’s 38 percent was the highest Democratic performance among non-judicial candidates on the ballot throughout the county. The reason why this metric matters to me is that I have to choose a race that best represents the “top of the ticket” so we can compare DPI from ’02, ’04 and ’06. Due to ole’ whats ‘er name and the Kinkster, Bell’s 28% result is not a fair measure. I left out a bit too much detail in the original post.

    I’m glad to hear that Burka likes SR52 as a potential pickup opportunity for Democrats in 2008, and completely agree with that assessment. However, those numbers are a bit rosier than what the Secretary of State is posting as the unofficial result. Perhaps Burka pulled those numbers before all the boxes were counted.

    One thing you have to credit Karen for running a smart, courageous campaign. With an impressive 3,000 write-in votes in a very brief 2004 campaign, Karen set her sights on ’06 early, obtained the party’s nomination, filed officially, put her eye-catching campaign signs out early in strategic locations, picked up a lot of endorsements and did a superb job of turning out her base. Karen’s very smart and energetic. Any Democratic that is thinking about a run for office in Williamson County in ’08 should consult early and often with Karen Felthauser. Of course, we’re going to be bugging Karen in a few months to find out what her future political aspirations are.

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