Dave Rogers

For The Record

 

The Blue Wave was just a trickle once again in Orange County, and Republicans Theresa Beauchamp and Hershel Stagner, Jr. easily won their contested elections for county office Tuesday.

In the only other local election with two choices, patrons of West Orange-Cove school district voted in favor of a $25.75 million school bond by a 62-38 percent margin.

Just under half of Orange County’s registered voters – 26,400 of 53,400 – turned in ballots for this election.

The fact that there were any contested local races was a big surprise for a county that votes 80-20 percent for Republicans in recent years.

It’s almost impossible to campaign against an entrenched party, because of straight ticket voting. About 67 percent of Orange County’s 26,400 voters voted the straight ticket this year, with 83 percent of those voting Republican.

Straight ticket voting will be eliminated, however, beginning in 2020, unless state legislators change the 2017-enacted law.

In one of the nation’s most-watched races, Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz held off a challenge by Democrat U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke and won re-election.

With 75 percent of the vote counted Tuesday night, the Associated Press called the race in favor of Cruz, who had 51.1 percent of the vote to 48.2 for O’Rourke, an El Paso native who famously visited all 254 Texas counties during the most expensive Senate race in the history of the country.

O’Rourke’s campaign raised about twice what Cruz did and the two candidates’ total was $110 million.

Beauchamp, a five-term Orange city council person from 2004 to 2015, captured 82 percent of the vote to become Precinct 2 Commissioner.

“It feels like heaven,” Beauchamp said Tuesday evening. “I’ve worked real hard and I think the people have built up a lot of confidence in me.

“That makes me feel pretty good.”

Her Democratic opponent Deborah Mitchell, was also an Orange city council member, from 2005 to 2009. Both candidates had a background in education.

Mitchell collected 1,197 votes in Precinct 2, 18 percent of the 6,813 Precinct 2 voters.

It was the second election campaign of the year for Beauchamp. She defeated incumbent Commissioner Barry Burton in the Republican Party primary in March.

That race was so close, Burton requested an official recount, after which Beauchamp held a two-vote margin.

Stagner, a retired funeral director, was named in 2017 to complete the final two years of Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace David Peck’s term after Peck suffered a head injury.

He collected 66 percent of the 5,971 votes cast in the race, compared to 34 percent for his opponent, attorney Gail Barnett.

“I feel really good and very grateful and thankful to the voters of Precinct 1,” Stagner said. “I certainly appreciate the voter turnout and all of the support.”

Dr. Rickie Harris, WOCCISD superintendent, was also in a thankful mood.

He thanked everybody “for entrusting the district with these additional resources. … We look forward to the hard work ahead that will turn our bond vision into reality.”

U.S. Representative Brian Babin had 71 percent of the votes to 29 percent for Democrat challenger Dayna Steele with 78 percent of the precincts county. Orange County liked Babin 82 to 18 percent.

All Texas Republican state leaders won re-election.

Gov. Greg Abbott had 56.1 percent to Democrat Lupe Valdez’ 42.3 statewide with 73 percent of precincts county. Orange County voted 83 to 17 for Abbott.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick grabbed 51.6 percent of statewide votes to 46.2 for Democrat challenger Mike Collier with 73 percent of precincts reporting. Orange County went 79-20 percent for Patrick.

State Sen. Robert Nichols won re-election over Democrat challenger Shirley Layton with 77.7 percent to 21.2 statewide with 77 percent precincts reporting. Orange County was 80-19 in favor of Nichols.

State Rep. Dade Phelan was unopposed in this election as were Orange County Republicans Steven Parkhurst, 260th District Judge; Dean Crooks, County Judge; Mandy White-Rogers, County Court at Law Judge; District Clerk Vickie Edgerly; County Clerk Brandy Robertson; County Treasurer Christy Khoury; Precinct 4 Commissioner Robert Viator; Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Chad Jenkins; Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Joy Dubose-Simonton; and Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Rodney Price.