Here in Austin, we have a number of local races on the ballot. As covered here extensively, five City Council races are on the ballot. Four feature incumbents running for reelection and District 2 in southeast and south Austin is an open seat. Also on the City ballot on the two transportation bonds, including the bitterly fought Prop A/Project Connect.
Higher up on the ballot are Travis County races. There, Democratic nominee for County Judge Andy Brown, chosen by precinct chairs earlier this year, faces a Republican opponent, Michael Lovins. The winner will replace Sarah Eckhardt, now a member of the Texas Senate.
Incumbent Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant, also the successful leader of nonpartisan voter registration efforts, is also on the ballot, facing a Republican and a Libertarian challenger.
On the Commissioners Court, Precinct 3 is an open seat as Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, a Republican, chose not to run again. Democrat Ann Howard faces Republican Becky Bray. Precinct 3 encompasses Southwest Austin and much of western suburbia.
In heavily Democratic Precinct 1, incumbent Democrat Jeff Travillion faces Republican challenger Solomon Arcoven.
Sheriff Sally Hernandez faces Republican challenger Raul Vargas, who spent 35 years with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
In the District Attorney’s race Jose Garza already cleared his biggest hurdle by defeating incumbent Margaret Moore in the Democratic primary. He now faces Republican Martin Harry.
Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza is unopposed in the County Attorney’s race.
Also, longtime Travis County District Judge Darlene Byrne is running for Chief Justice of the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals, against Republican opponent Jeff Rose. Democrats scrolling through the ballot might want to be sure not to miss this race, as it is on the ballot just above a number of Travis County Judges or judicial candidates who are running unopposed.
Among the judicial candidates running unopposed is Madeleine Connor, something of a fake Democrat who describes herself as a “longtime conservative,” previously ran three times as a Republican, and made the state’s list of “vexatious litigants.” Connor defeated longtime, well respected Judge Tim Sulak. Her victory is widely believed to be a result of low information Travis County voters choosing the woman over a man when they were not familiar with either.
For some people in Austin and Hays County there is a contested race for the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer District Board with water industry consultant and environmentalist Christy Williams challenging longtime board member Bob Larsen. Two other boards seats feature incumbents running unopposed.
The Austin Independent School District also has three seats on the ballot.
Also important to watch are Texas House races around the state. Democrats are targeting enough districts that they believe they have a chance of capturing a majority in the House. Important to that is Austin area incumbents Vicki Goodwin and Erin Zwiener retaining their seats. Goodwin defeated long time Austin basher Paul Workman in 2018. She is being challenged by Austin cop Justin Berry, who is running a fairly standard conservative campaign.
Zwiener, of Hays County, won an open seat in 2018 and is being challenged by Carrie Isaac, a Republican and the wife of the former holder of that seat, Jason Isaac, who was also an active Austin basher.
Tip for Election Night Returns In Local Races
One way to get an early indication of the results in local races is to watch for the early vote returns. These usually come in sometime before eight o’clock, but that can often vary. They are, however, reported first. Given that early votes come from the entire county, or the entire city in municipal races, that means the early votes reflects the whole city and county. Thus, it provides more solid evidence of what the ultimate result will be than reports from various voting precincts as they come in over the evening.
There can be demographic differences between the early and election day vote to the point that a candidate trailing in the early vote could come back and win the election, but only if the margin is relatively small in the early vote. If a candidate is far ahead in the early vote that almost certainly means they will maintain a lead throughout the count and win the election.
In the case of City Council Members, if they are at 55% or above, that likely means they will win without a runoff. The large early vote this time means that the election day vote will be a smaller portion of the overall vote than usual. So that makes the early vote even more indicative of the eventual outcome.
News outlets often report this as simply a total “with zero percent of precincts reporting.” When one sees that early in the evening it usually means the early vote is in and nothing else.
The Travis County Clerk’s Office specifies the difference between early voting results, mail-in ballots and election day vote on their website. They also provide an estimate of wait times are various polling places.
This will not be as good an indicator in the Congressional and state legislative races, and in fact could be misleading. That’s because the vote in Travis County is only a portion of the vote in the overall District — and vice-versa i.e. only pieces of Austin and Travis County are in some of these districts.
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