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November 6, 2012

County goes red for Romney

Republican candidates easily carry Palo Pinto County; eyes on White House race

FROM STAFF REPORTS

No surprises here.

Palo Pinto County voters overwhelmingly supported former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Republicans across the ticket Tuesday.

While Palo Pinto County and the state of Texas went red – the color assigned to counties and states that vote a Republican majority – the outcome of the election for the nation’s highest office was still up in the air at press time late Tuesday.

There were no contested county offices on the ballot, with Republican candidates for district judge, district attorney, commissioners for precincts 1 and 3, all five constables, sheriff, county tax assessor-collector and county attorney failing to draw a Democratic or write-in opponent. No Democrats hold public office in the county.

Likewise, Republicans running for statewide office all carried Palo Pinto County overwhelmingly with percentages ranging from upper 70 percent to as much as 90 percent in some races. State Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, easily won re-election over a Libertarian opponent and was receiving nearly 90 percent of the county vote in incomplete and unofficial returns.

According to some county voters in exit polling conducted by the Index, the reasons for their votes in the presidential race varied.

Like many others in the county – Romney was carrying 80 percent of the county’s vote with just a few precincts left non-tallied – Alva Tate said he voted Republican because the party reflects his conservative values. Tate said the individual candidates had little to do with his choice.

“No special reason,” he said. “I just voted straight Republican ticket.”

Similarly, Judy Bowers said she has consistently supported Republican candidates.

“That’s who I always vote for,” she said. “I voted Democrat once and never again.”

Whether voting Democrat or Republican, other locals based their decision on President Barack Obama’s perceived performance during his first term.

John White said he cast a ballot in favor of a second Obama term.

“I voted for Obama because I wanted to,” he said.

When asked if he believed the president’s policies have helped America, he said, “I think so.”

Other voters, unsatisfied with Obama’s first term, said they see a need for new leadership.

“I didn’t vote for that,” Mark Hoskins said of the past four years. “I’m trying to undo what I didn’t get done four years ago.”

Hoskins’ wife, Lynn, voiced a similar opinion.

“I voted against Obama, to get him out of office,” she said. “I agree with the Republican side, as well.”

For voters such as Frankie Meeks, one issue can be the deciding factor in choosing a candidate.

“I voted Republican because of the job I work,” he said, adding he has voted Democrat in the past. “I’m oilfield; that’s the only reason.”

Nellie Garcia said she voted for President Obama because she didn’t see the need for change. Likewise, other voters exiting the Mineral Wells Senior Center also cast their vote for the president.

Linda Johnson said there “is no division in our home” when it came to voting Tuesday. Both she and her husband said they voted for Obama as well.

“I like the man and I like what he’s done,” she said. “I don’t think he’s been given a chance to show what he can do because he had all these problems when he came in. He needs a little more time.”

A mother and son exiting the southwest polling site, at the Mineral Wells ISD District Services Center, had a lot to share about why they voted, but did not want their names in the paper. They said citizens’ having the right to vote is their way to have a say so in who becomes president.

The son, who voted in his second presidential election, and mother, who became a citizen in 1996, said they both voted for Obama primarily to support him and the Dream Act.

“It’s because, in my eyes, the Dream Act and every kids needs a chance to do what’s right,” the mother said. “And Obamacare and health.”

“He’s open minded,” said the son, reiterating that his mother liked that Obama supports same-sex marriage. “He’s going to help out everybody.”

Another female voter, who asked to remain unnamed, said she voted straight Republican.

She said she supports Gov. Mitt Romney because, in her 73 years, she has seen second-term presidents make decisions without the worrying about being re-elected to another term and said it hasn’t always worked out best. She said she is concerned about some of the things Pres. Obama might do in a second term, without that concern of being re-elected. She added that she doesn’t want the United States to become a welfare state and thinks Americans need to have initiative about working.

“I worked all my life and wasn’t given anything [including] free schooling. My father taught me to work,” she added.

Nationally at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Romney had 50 percent of popular vote to 48 percent for Obama, and the all-important Electoral College, with 270 votes needed, was a virtual dead heat with several key swing states including Ohio, North Carolina and Florida undecided and too close to call.

Check election returns at mineralwellsindex.com.

Staff writers Chris Agee and Libby Cluett and Editor David May contributed to this report.

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