By LIBBY CLUETT
PALO PINTO – Tuesday’s election was historic in many senses, especially locally. For the first time in Palo Pinto County’s history, local ballots had only Republican candidates, beginning with District 60 State Rep. Jim Keffer’s race and going down the ballot to commissioners and constables.
For the first time in county history Republicans swept county-wide from the top to the bottom of the ticket.
In the county’s 28 voting precincts, a total of 9,419 voters – more than 54 percent of Palo Pinto County’s 17,255 registered voters – cast ballots in Tuesday’s election. Although these votes constituted just over 0.11 percent of Texas votes, the local numbers reveal some interesting trends.
With no Democrats challenging Republicans, and many elected officials who switched parties when they filed almost a year ago, there were no county contested races. However, each county candidate received different numbers of votes.
While taxes were a hot topic in so many races up and down the ballot, it seems ironic that Palo Pinto County Tax Assessor-Collector Linda Tuggle – the person who has been collecting county taxes for several years – gained the greatest number of countywide votes. Tuggle, an incumbent, had 7,911 votes.
Palo Pinto County Republican Party Chair Barbara Upham noted that many people commented on Tuggle’s popularity in the May primary election, when she also drew more votes than other candidates.
“It’s unusual, but the tax person has always been a popular person and candidate. They’ve all been very likeable people,” she said, adding that this includes Tuggle’s predecessors Sandra Long, Max Wheeler and John Winters.
Following Tuggle in local voter support were: incumbent County Attorney Phil Garrett, with 7,845 votes, or just over 83 percent; new 29th District Judge Mike Moore, with 7,581 votes, or 80.4 percent; incumbent Sheriff Ira Mercer, with 7,528 votes, or 79.9 percent; and incumbent 29th District Attorney Michael Burns, with 7,407 votes, or 78.6 percent.
Incumbent District 60 State Rep. Jim Keffer, who was unchallenged, garnered 7,597 votes from Palo Pinto County citizens; meanwhile, State Sen. Craig Estes, who had a Libertarian challenger in Richard Wells Forsythe Jr., received 7,056 Palo Pinto County votes.
In the presidential election, 5,672 citizens, or just over 60 percent, selected straight-party voting. Of the local straight-ticket voters, nearly 79 percent (4,480 voters) went Republican, close to 20 percent (1,130) voted as Democrats, 0.86 percent (49) voted for the Libertarian Party and 0.23 (13 citizens) supported for the Green Party.
Based on the number of individuals voting for president and vice president, over 62 percent of Democrats voted straight party, whereas slightly more than 60 percent of Republicans voted straight party.
From Palo Pinto County voters, 70 didn’t cast a vote for president, and 147 voted for third-party choices. Libertarian presidential and vice presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Jim Gray received 106 local votes, Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala gained 27 county votes and 14 voters chose write-in candidates.
“There are more Green Party and Libertarians on the ballot,” Upham noted. “They both seem to come pretty far down the ballot.”
She said one year the Libertarian Party announced a local primary election and convention, all to be held at Woody’s Bar and Grill.
While Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. Paul Ryan received 79 percent of the votes, numbers show that Republican support for U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in Palo Pinto County wasn’t quite as high. With over 75 percent of the local votes and 56.6 percent among Texans, Cruz beat Democrat Paul Sadler to take outgoing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat.
By LIBBY CLUETT
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