GOP sweeps contested races in Howard County

Tuesday night was certainly a good night for Republican candidates — both incumbents and challengers — in Howard County, as GOP politicians swept the contested races countywide.In the race for Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Place 2, Republican incumbent Kathryn Wiseman held on to her seat with 2,819 ballots, accounting for 63.48 percent of the ballots cast. Democratic challenger Ricky Hughes garnered 36.52 percent of the vote with 1,622 ballots in the contest.Wiseman said the victory — which was announced after several agonizing hours of waiting due to problems with the Howard County election believed to be software-related — was gratifying.“When I was first elected, I set out to campaign every single day I was in office,” Wiseman said late Tuesday night. “I was determined to treat people with kindness and understanding, and I feel like that served me very well in this election.“This is the closest election I've had since being elected, but I had honestly expected it to be even closer. Ricky Hughes got a lot of his signs out there and campaigned very hard, spending a lot of money in the process. It was a very good race.”The Republican party had plenty to celebrate Tuesday night, having garnered a staggering 1,836 straight ticket ballots in Howard County, accounting for nearly one third of the 6,359 ballots cast in the contest overall, a fact Wiseman said certainly helped her bid for a third term.“There's no doubt the Republican party played a role in my win,” Wiseman said. “The Republican Chairman Craig Bailey worked hard to energize the party, getting people out working door to door. I feel like the political climate in Howard County and throughout the state has played a big role in this year's election. People have been shaken out of their complacency on a national level, and are getting more involved in the political process. They are working to make this nation by the people, for the people, the way it was intended.”Democratic straight ticket votes clocked in at a tepid 720 ballots in Howard County during the general election, according to figures released late Tuesday night by County Election Administrator Saundra Bloom.Fellow GOP candidate Donnie Baker also pulled out a convincing win for the Precinct 2 seat on the Howard County commissioners court, bringing in 1,813 ballots — a whopping 77.05 percent of the vote — while Dem challenger Jim Sinclair garnered only 540 ballots for 22.95 percent of the vote.Baker's win Tuesday night came after the political newcomer defeated incumbent Jerry Kilgore in the March primaries.Baker's won't be the only new face on the commissioners court, as Republican nominee John Cline took a convincing 66.29 percent win Tuesday night with 1,164 ballots, unseating Dem incumbent Gary Simer, who garnered 592 ballots for 33.71 percent of the vote.Neither Baker or Cline could be reached for comment late Tuesday night.The trend of Republican-led upsets continued in the race for the District 85 State Representative seat, as GOP challenger Jim Landtroop took the win with 17,426 ballots, a generous 62.26 percent of the vote. Incumbent Dem Joe Heflin made it through Tuesday night with only 10,853 ballots, or 38.37 percent of the vote.“I tell you, this is way beyond our expectations,” Landtroop told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal following the win. “We expected to win, but not this big.”Heflin said the loss, like so many during this general election, was driven by political affiliation, not individual platforms.“I am very disappointed,” Heflin said. “We did what we were supposed to do but this is happening everywhere … people are voting out incumbents, especially Democrats.”Republican incumbent Randy Neugebauer won a convincing victory in the race for the District 19 seat on the U.S. House of Representatives as well, taking 105,818 ballots for 77.67 percent of the vote. Dem challenger Andy Wilson walked away with just 26,082 ballots for 19.14 percent of the vote, while Libertarian candidate Richard “Chip” Peterson came away with a dismal 4,331 ballots, just 3.17 percent of the vote.Neugebauer could not be reached for comment following the release of final tallies from the Texas Secretary of State's office.