Chambers County oilman Mayes Middleton, who promised to bring Galveston County’s representation in Austin further to the political right, completed an upset bid against incumbent state Rep. Wayne Faircloth during the GOP primary election Tuesday night.
Middleton received about 7,981 votes, 57 percent of total ballots cast in both Galveston and Chambers counties, according to complete but unofficial results.
“It was the hard work that we all put into it,” Middleton said. “It was being willing to meet every single voter individually and talk to them and listen to what they care about.”
Faircloth could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Middleton mostly self-funded his campaign, and outspent Faircloth by a large margin on advertising.
His campaign also received a boost in January with an endorsement from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who spent weeks during primary campaigning attacking Republican members of the Texas House of Representatives who the governor said helped block his conservative agenda during the 2016 legislative session.
Faircloth had the support of outgoing Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, and several large business-oriented political action committees.
In addition to being backed by the governor, Middleton is a major donor and close ally of Empower Texans, an organization pushing for some of the most conservative pieces of legislation presented to lawmakers.
Middleton supports private school vouchers and has promised to work with Abbott on tax reforms that would limit cities’ ability to raise property tax revenue.
In the late days of the campaign, Faircloth received a bevy of support from Galveston-area civic and business groups.
Faircloth carried Galveston County, but by only 92 votes, according to complete but unofficial results. He trailed in Chambers County by nearly 1,300 votes after early results, however, and was never able to make up that margin.
“We’re giving the people that actually own the seat, the voters and the citizens and the taxpayers a voice, and they really haven’t had one,” Middleton said. “Austin lobbyists and career politicians are the ones that have had the voice.”
Faircloth was first elected to his seat in 2014. He was the first Republican elected to represent Galveston Island in Austin since Reconstruction.
Middleton will face Galveston Democrat Amanda Jamrok in Nov. 6 general election. Jamrok is a 25-year-old first-time candidate who ran unopposed in the primary.
Texas state representatives serve two-year terms. State representatives earn $600 a month, plus $190 a day when the legislature is in session.
Incumbent Galveston County Judge Mark Henry on Tuesday won the Republican Party primary election against District Court Judge Lonnie Cox after a contentious campaign that led to a close race.
Since no Democrat filed to run for county judge in the November general election, Henry is almost certain to retain the post for another four-year term.
Henry won 12,034 votes for about 51.81 percent of the total, while Cox took 11,192, 48.19 percent, according to complete but unofficial election results.
Accusations of dirty tricks between Henry and Cox dominated the campaign for months.
“It’s been very stressful for my family,” Henry said. “I’m very glad it’s over. I’m very glad the people gave us their votes.”
Cox couldn’t be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Henry said in February he had filed a criminal complaint against Cox, alleging the judge had used his position to access and leak confidential records that were part of a divorce proceeding initiated by Henry’s wife and sealed by court order. Cox denied the accusation.
In January, Cox defended his use of campaign funds to pay his legal fees in a lawsuit against Henry as above board, after a local attorney raised questions that the spending might violate state campaign finance laws.
The county judge is the chief administrative officer of the county and heads the commissioners court, which sets policy for various governmental departments.
Henry earns about $167,400 a year in the job.
Commissioner Joe Giusti will keep his seat with a clear win over challenger Kevin O’Brien.
Giusti took 5,201 votes, 65.49 percent, according to complete but unofficial election results. O’Brien won 2,741 votes, 34.51 percent.
Because no Democrats ran for the position, Giusti will remain the commissioner for Precinct 2, which represents a wide swath of Galveston County and includes areas west of Interstate 45 from League City to Tiki Island, and western parts of Galveston Island.
In 2010, O’Brien defeated Giusti by 30 votes in the Republican primary for Galveston County Commission Precinct 2. He would go on to defeat Democrat Bryan Lamb in the general election.
In 2014, Giusti won the seat, defeating O’Brien by 110 votes in the primary race.
Galveston County Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Clark will face Michelle Hatmaker in a runoff election May 22.
Clark received 3,416 votes, 47.58 percent, while Hatmaker took 1,565, 21.80 percent in a race among four candidates, according to complete but unofficial election results.
“We ran a clean, solid campaign,” Hatmaker said. “The numbers have spoken loudly.”
Clark has served in his position for 20 years, making him one of the longest-serving elected officials in Galveston County.
“I want to thank the voters for overwhelmingly supporting me,” Clark said. “I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. I want to get back to focusing on county projects.”
Friendswood City Councilman Billy Enochs took 1,119 votes, 15.58 percent, and businessman Jim Bulgier won 1,080 votes, 15.04 percent.
Precinct 4 covers areas in the northwest part of the county, including parts of Friendswood, League City and Dickinson.
Galveston County Commissioners earn an annual salary of a little more than $102,000 and serve four-year terms.
Galveston County Republican voters Tuesday re-elected two-term District Attorney Jack Roady over firebrand Tom Dickens, who tried to unseat the incumbent with a lengthy campaign based on criticism and fury.
Roady defeated Dickens, a retired civil attorney and police officer, with 14,533 votes to Dickens’ 7,999 votes, according to complete but unofficial returns.
“I am so very proud of the men and women at the office that helped create such a good record to be able to run on,” Roady said.
Dickens announced his presence in the race by criticizing Roady and the current office for not being tough enough on crime and focusing too much on statistics.
Roady said Tuesday he made the decision early on to run a positive campaign and that he thought voters responded positively.
“I think people like positive and informative races,” Roady said. “We did our best to try to get the information out so that voters could make informed decisions. That’s what we tried to focus on.”
During the campaign, Roady pointed to being named the Prosecutor of the Year by the State Bar of Texas in 2016 as a sign of his reputation and said prosecutors in Galveston have about an 89 percent conviction rate on felony cases.
Dickens ran a mostly self-financed campaign relying a great deal on messaging through posts on his Facebook page.
The posts were long and often focused on specific trials or cases in which Dickens asserts Roady failed to deliver justice.
Some of Dickens’ more incendiary claims drew the ire of assistant district attorneys and other county groups.
The League City Police Officers Association in a recent Facebook post, for instance, accused Dickens of lying when he accused Roady of paying the group for its endorsement.
“It certainly appears that Mr. Dickens is purposefully lying to the citizens of Galveston County, further demonstrating that he lacks the integrity or leadership to run an office as important as the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office,” the post said.
Dickens took a wide range of positions on criminal justice, sometimes at seemingly contradictory angles. He criticized the district attorney’s role in the overcrowded county jail, which he said was caused by high bond amounts, but didn’t commit to suggesting lower bond amounts if he were elected.
Dickens declined to comment Tuesday about the election results, except to congratulate his opponent on the victory.
Roady is a Santa Fe resident who unseated Democrat Kurt Sistrunk in 2010 as part of a wave of Republican wins in county politics. Before coming to Galveston County, he was an assistant district attorney in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Roady will probably be the next Galveston County Criminal District Attorney because no Democrats are running for the position.
The district attorney serves a four-year term. In the last fiscal year, the district attorney earned $161,640.
“I’m proud of the office and the people I work with,” Roady said. “I’m grateful to have served the people of Galveston County and I’m happy to get another four years to do so.”
Michelle Slaughter, judge of the 405th District Court, won the Republican Party nomination to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Tuesday night, according to complete but unofficial election results.
Since no Democratic Party candidate filed to run, Slaughter will become one of the nine justices on the court. She will earn a salary of $168,000 a year and serve a six-year term.
Slaughter held a comfortable lead with more than 52 percent of the vote in the three-candidate race late Tuesday, according to near-complete but unofficial results.
During the campaign, Slaughter picked up some substantial endorsements, including influential conservative group Empower Texans and Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that has also endorsed Ted Cruz, Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott.
“I’m grateful and humbled for so much support across the state,” Slaughter said. “I received tremendous endorsements. I’m feeling incredibly honored and blessed.”
Slaughter, who first took the bench in 2013, previously said she would position herself as a Clarence Thomas-like figure on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Texas has a two-branch appeals court system. When a criminal case is appealed to the highest level, it’s the court of criminal appeals that makes a ruling. The Texas Supreme Court is the highest court for civil cases.
Comal County Judge Dib Waldrip and Jay Brandon, the chief of conviction integrity unit in Bexar County, also made bids for the Republican nomination.
Taking the time to talk to voters across Texas and listening to concerns is a reason she won, Slaughter said.
“Being able to travel the state and meet with voters, I think that played into it and had a tremendous impact,” she said. “I think that really resonated with a lot of people.”