Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend of Texas | We Investigate

Five things we learned on Election Day

Election Day has come and gone.

It appears to be only the start of things in Corpus Christi with five more runoff races scheduled for Dec. 18.

But voters clearly sent a message here in the Coastal Bend as well as the state. Here are five notable trends that can be gleaned after the voting.

1. Barbara Canales had stronger support than was expected

The Port of Corpus Christi Authority commissioner had a stronger base of support than expected as she defeated Mike Pusley in the County Judge race. Her contacts with Corpus Christi voters played better than expected with surprising number of traditional Republican votes along with solid strength in Democratic areas of balloting.

Her election brings the first Democratic County Judge in 10 years. And perhaps most importantly, her victory provides the Democratic party with an edge on Commissioners Court for the first time in recent memory. That 3-2 advantage should give the local Democratic party a bridge to build on during the next several years.

2. Only a few votes cost Mayor Joe McComb a shot at winning without a runoff

McComb narrowly missed winning the election outright by only 197 votes. It was why the mayor didn’t make any comments until late Tuesday evening as he watched returns stream in.

That narrow margin enables political novice Michael Hall to have new life in his first election. He has a lot of work to do to coalesce supporters of Ray Madrigal De Pancho Villa, Dan McQueen and third-place finisher Aislynn Campbell in an anti-establishment vote in the runoff.

It will be a tough task as McComb figures to have most of his traditional political sources who will be galvanized against Hall’s new ideas.

3. What a difference two years made for Dan McQueen 

Only two years ago, McQueen earned the mayoral election as a political novice in 2016. But after only 37 days in office, he left the position after charges about his educational background, business experience and a possible violation of a city law that forbids employees from hiring domestic partners without first disclosing their relationship and getting approval from the city manager.

After briefly mulling a campaign for the U.S. Senate last year, McQueen decided to turn his attentions closer to Corpus Christi. He ran fifth in the five-person race for mayor, polling 2,795 votes for 3.85 percent of the ballot.

4. The need for a new high school, heightened school security measures trumped voter concerns about costs and location

The call to build a new Carroll High School wasn’t a popular topic among many voters. And the district’s chances appeared tougher when news surfaced before the election about their lack of communication with the Navy over the placement of the new school. KRIS reported the school’s location was part of a crash zone for the nearby Navy training airfield.

It didn’t matter, as the district sold the need for new security devices at other school along with the new school.

Through all the travails, the bond still passed by 2,211 votes. It means the security devices will go up and the new Carroll school will be built as voters approved the district’s fifth bond election in 10 years.

It will mean voters will see a tax hike of 6.6 cents per $100 of taxable property value on their 2019 taxes.

5. Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke were surprisingly conciliatory to each other after the race 

Cruz will return to Washington after beating back a surprisingly close race from the Democratic congressman from El Paso.

O’Rourke spent more money than any candidate in the nation and the most in Texas history.

“Ted Cruz took the hardest punch that $70 million could throw,” Texas state Sen. Brandon Creighton told reporters shortly before Cruz’s acceptance speech.

There was a call among the two contenders after the results were known and surprisingly little animosity was shown between them.

O’Rourke ran one of the best races by a Democratic candidate in recent Texas history.

It impressed Cruz, whose victory should galvanize his position as one of the most powerful senators in the nation.

“He poured his heart out in this campaign,” Cruz told his supporters, even as they booed as he spoke. “Millions of people in this state were inspired by his campaign. … My responsibility is to represent every Texan.”

The populist side of O’Rourke showed during his concession speech at a concert stage at a ballpark at his hometown of El Paso.

“I’m as inspired, I’m as hopeful as I’ve ever been in my life, and tonight’s loss does nothing to diminish the way I feel about Texas or this country,” O’Rourke said, stepping off the stage as John Lennon’s “Imagine” played.

O’Rourke’s future is unknown. But his strong race inspired other Democrats across the state.

“There is certainly light at the end of the tunnel for Texas Democrats,” former San Antonio mayor and former secretary of housing and urban development Julian Castro told reporters after the election results were known.  “It’s something to build on.”

Tim Griffin

Tim Griffin

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