By MIKE EDDLEMAN
With a crowded primary behind them, winners for all but one area race can now set their sights on the November General Election and opponents from another party.
In the four-way race for the U.S. House District 31 Democratic nomination, MJ Hegar (13,848 votes) and Christine Mann (10,340) each garnered enough support to force a runoff. The pair will face off on May 22 to determine who will take on incumbent Republican John Carter, who carried 65 percent of the vote against Mike Sweeney.
Mann, who lives in the Summerlyn neighborhood just outside Liberty Hill, credited her volunteers and focus on personal engagement with voters for her success.
“I have a very dedicated team of volunteers who have been out knocking on doors and meeting people and promoting the campaign,” she said. “I really do think it is our direct communication with voters that made the difference. I’ve had three town halls and planning more. I’ve knocked on 500 doors myself in addition to what our volunteers have done.”
Her strategy for the runoff will not change, or her approach to the General Election should she win in May.
“I think that the idea of going to people is what we should be doing,” she said. “We have a strategy meeting set up for later today (Wednesday) to determine how we can engage people and keep working on that.”
In a statement issued Wednesday, Hegar thanked the voters who supported her.
“I’m grateful that we have already received the most support from Texans in the 31st Congressional District and proud of the historic turnout of over 30,000 people. I am looking forward to growing that support over the next 10 weeks, winning in May, and again in November.”
Carter also issued a statement thanking his supporters in Williamson and Bell counties, saying it was time for Republicans to unite for a win in November.
In the Republican bid to win the nomination for county judge, Bill Gravell won just over 52 percent of the vote to defeat Frank Leffingwell.
“The campaign went really well,” Gravell told The Independent. “We had a strategy and our goal was to win Georgetown and Pct. 3 handily and we did, but we also had a high goal of winning Liberty Hill, Florence, Granger, Taylor and Hutto and we did very well in those places.”
He said he spent time campaigning in Liberty Hill on Election Day Tuesday.
“I am deeply grateful for the support in Liberty Hill and it has become a large area for Republican votes as it has grown,” Gravell said.
What made the difference in the primary race, according to Gravell, was not something he did, but something he didn’t do.
“It was the message we didn’t deliver,” he said. “Our opponent was very negative and spent $150,000 tearing us down at every turn, and we committed that we would not respond in kind. To respond to the attacks is beneath the dignity of a judge. It is the one thing we didn’t do that helped us to win.”
In the General Election, Gravell will take on Democrat Blane Conklin who was unopposed in the primary.
“Our focus hasn’t changed and will remain the same,” he said. “We still have our three core values and the message we believe in. First is public safety, secondly is to reduce our debt, and third is to be a leader that can bring individuals together to solve problems.”
Incumbent Republican Cynthia Long defeated challenger Bart Turek – a Liberty Hill resident – winning 68 percent of the vote in the Pct. 2 Commissioner race. She will be challenged in November by Democrat Kasey Redus who was unopposed in the primary.
Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Edna Staudt took one step closer to her seventh term, defeating Bronson Tucker and winning 61 percent of the vote.
Staudt was happy to see the increased turnout and interest in the election.
“I think a lot of people were encouraged and a lot of people got involved in the process for the first time and I’m glad I got a lot of people involved,” she said. “People realize participating in our process is an important part of our country.”
Victory for the six-term justice of the peace boiled down to her dedication to the community.
“My investment in the community over many years shows how I have invested in and care about this community,” Staudt said. “I also believe I have exhibited the values of the Republican Party and who I am as a Republican has made the big difference in the contrast between the two of us through the election.”
Her opponent on the Democrat side in November will be Jonasu Wagstaff who was unopposed. Staudt said in the General Election the focus will be on emphasizing the differences between the candidates.
“The approach to a great degree will show the philosophical differences between the two candidates,” she said. “They need to see who the people are they will be voting for. I hope the people who want to express their views will do so. I hope this county can stay conservative and stick with the values that have made it great.”
Meg Walsh won the Democratic nomination for State Senate District 5, taking 74 percent of the vote in a three-candidate race over Glenn Williams and Brian Cronin.
“I was surprised,” Walsh said of the margin of victory. “I’m a huge fan of positive thinking and I had a feeling I would win a majority, but surprised it was as high as it was. I have literally been out block walking, at meetings, at churches and calling constantly. We brought our A game and did it all.”
The key issues for Walsh has been high property taxes and school funding, ones she plans to continue focusing on as she takes on incumbent Charles Schwertner, who won the Republican nomination over Harold Ramm.
“It doesn’t matter what party you’re in, people are really feeling the burden of (property taxes and school funding),” she said adding that she appreciates Schwertner’s service, but plans to continue to stay on the same issues through the General Election. “The issues are the same and I believe I have a good approach on how to handle them. When we walk, we get the vote out. My walking is not just to tell people to vote for me, it is to listen to them.”
Democrats celebrated higher voter turnout, but overall numbers continued to skew heavily in favor of Republicans.
In the U.S. House District 31 race, 21,962 more voters cast a ballot for a Republican than a Democrat.
Even though it is an uphill climb, Mann sees it as important progress.
“Having seen the numbers we were able to turn out should be encouraging, it was a big step up and big improvement over what we’ve been able to turn out in the past,” she said. “Each time that happens it’s another incentive for people to stay involved and talking to friends and neighbors about how we need to get engaged and come out to the polls regularly.”
In the State Senate District 5 race, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats across the district more than 2-to-1.
Countywide, the U.S. Senate race, won by Beto O’Rourke, tallied the most votes on the Democrat ballot with 25,622. On the Republican ballot, 35,943 voted in the governor’s race, which incumbent Greg Abbott won overwhelmingly with 88 percent of the vote.
Total turnout in Williamson County was only 20 percent, with 63,388 ballots cast among 316,004 registered voters.
The three precincts that overlap Liberty Hill – 206, 207 and 267 – averaged just over 17 percent turnout with 1,995 total ballots cast.
For complete county voting results, visit www.wilco.org, and for statewide results, visit the Secretary of State’s website at sos.state.tx.us.