It was a white-knuckle night Tuesday for two members of the Galveston County Commissioners Court, as both survived close re-election races, at least for now.

County Judge Mark Henry rode an early advantage in absentee and early voting to a slim 51.65 percent to 48.35 percent victory against challenger Michelle Hatmaker to earn the Republican nomination for the county’s chief executive, according to complete, but unofficial returns.   

The result was a surprising one considering Henry’s incumbency advantage and early fundraising lead.  

Henry jumped out to the lead with 5,936 votes to Hatmaker’s 4,849 in absentee and early voting, with a dominant edge, 1,022 to 412, in absentee voting. But Hatmaker outpolled Henry on Election Day, 3,464 votes to 2,945.

Supporters of Henry’s campaign were on pins and needles all night as returns trickled in, with each set of tabulations slowly chipping away at his lead. But when The Daily News finally called the race around 10 p.m., the crowd broke out in applause — and relief.

“It’s a much tighter race than we expected,” Henry said. “We really thought people responded well to reducing the size of government and cutting taxes, but I guess not everyone’s on board with that.”

Henry faces no Democratic challenger in the November general election. Two people — Bill Young and Maryanne Rogers — have announced intentions to run as independents. First, they would have to collect enough signatures from voters who did not cast ballots in the primary to secure a place on the ballot.

Henry said he planned to continue pushing for leaner government and lower taxes in the next four years.

Meanwhile, Henry’s colleague on the commissioners court, Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin O’Brien, survived a six-candidate race and advanced to a runoff against Joe Giusti, a former Galveston police officer who ran against O’Brien in the GOP primary in 2010 for the same post.

Giusti led the six-person field with 1,604 votes or 28.05 percent. O’Brien came in second, with 1,503 or 26.29 percent. No other candidate garnered more than 13.12 percent.

“I’m very pleased about making the runoff,” Giusti said. “It’s just going to be another tough couple of months, but I think we’ll get there.”

O’Brien couldn’t be reached Tuesday evening and didn’t return a call seeking comment left at his office earlier Tuesday. Previously, O’Brien has touted his role in the commissioners court’s efforts to lower taxes and streamline county government.

Giusti said he would be a full-time county commissioner and push for term limits for commissioners and the county judge. He said he would also push for better roads and drainage in the precinct, items that O’Brien has highlighted as key issues as well.

Both candidates vowed to push for federal funding for the Ike Dike hurricane protection project.

The runoff election is set for May 27. Early voting is scheduled for May 19-23.

Galveston County Judge — (R)

                          Votes    Percentage

Mark Henry            8,881    51.65

Michelle Hatmaker    8,313    48.35

County Commissioner Pct. 2 — (R)

                          Votes    Percentage

*Joe Giusti           1,604    28.05

*Kevin O’Brien      1,503    26.29

Andy McDonald        750    13.12

Janet Hoffman         748    12.08

John Paul Listowski   630    11.02

Beau Rawlins            483    8.45

* Advanced to May 27 runoff election

Contact reporter Wes Swift at 409-683-5319 or

(38) comments

Miss Priss

Mark Henry ....

People don't mind the shrinkage of government. What hurt you happened this week and just a symptom of the issues plaguing your office. Every previously elected official thinks that you should have put Roxann Lewis on administrative leave. If you had done so then maybe people would have a little respect for you. If you can't control her what can you control?

The oops on you mailer was a biggie - are you the bit embarrassed that a US representative called you out on it in his website. Most people would have went running off.

You almost lost an election as a dominant party incumbent. You need to re-evaluate your priorities. Spending 6 K on senior ballot fliers saved you. Had Hatmaker listened to everyone and done the same, she would have most likely won.

Robert Young

Hatmaker did an excellent job except for the mailer and Truthserum hit the nail on the head! Hatmakers supporters are real strong in the south and will still not support Henry..Young is strong in the north county, Henry's backyard. Young will get most democrats, independents and a 25% of the republicans. Most Constables and JP's regardless of party will vote against Henry..Maryann Rogers will carry Bolivar for sure. The perfect storm for change may be brewing in Galveston county for an Independent County Judge who will not shove a personal or party agenda up the courts nose.. I'd say that might be real refreshing after this group..

Robert Buckner

Good point truthserum. Voters are watching more closely than ever these days. Challengers posted some healthy numbers against some current office holders.

Carlos Ponce

Congratulations to Mark Henry! Thank you for lowering my county taxes. Keep up the good work!

GW Cornelius

How sad for Galveston County but there will be another election.

frank furleigh

Great job, Judge Henry - we're looking forward to 4 more years of great things.
The saddest part of the election is that so many lazy Galveston County citizens are just too self-absorbed and irresponsible to get out and vote for our elected leaders. That's a shameful fact.

Gary Miller

Shameful results?
Only 25,000 voters, DNC and GOP, in galveston county. Less than 10 % turnout is why democracy is dangerous. If just 1 % more had voted they could have dominayed.
A minority of less than 11 % could rule. With so low a turnout it only takes 6 % to win.
Democracy requires 50 % plus one to be legitimate.

Steve Fouga

You're right, IHOG.

But see, we have a problem here in TX. The Dems know they can't win in the general election, and the Repubs know they're going to no matter what. So nobody votes.

My theory is that most Republican voters don't truly care who the nominee is; Tea Party conservative or RINO, it just doesn't matter -- all of their candidates are more conservative than the Dems, and that's good enough. Sure, there are a few who study and understand the differences. Maybe that was who voted.

Chris Gimenez

Did you see how many of the "GOP" candidates were democrats in their previous voting records? If a politician doesn't have the courage to run in their party then they don't deserve my measly little vote.

Norman Pappous

Right on! We never should have allowed Ronald Regan to run as a Republican!

Chris Gimenez

Ronald Reagan was a Democrat in the 50's and became a Republican in 1962. He didn't change his party with the political climate like the clowns we currently have running and holding office. When he changed to the right party he never looked back.

Carlos Ponce

Donnie Quintanilla identified with the Democratic Party because his father was a Democrat. Then he grew up. He is now in the run-offs with Jack Ewing for County Court at Law No. 3.

Henry Trochessett ran for Sheriff as a Democrat. Then he was convinced that he did not share their values. We now call him Sheriff Henry Trochessett -Republican.

Norman Pappous

"He didn't change his party with the political climate..."

Uh - that is exactly what he did. Read his bio.

Chris Gimenez

Uh-I did read it and it's obvious the facts don't mean anything to you. Everyone running as a Republican today in this county and who used to vote-or "identify" as Democrats as Carlos states, would switch back to the Democrat party if the political climate in Galveston County swung back the other way. That's called being politically expedient and shows a definite lack of values in my opinion.

Norman Pappous

RR - "I didn't leave the the Democratic party. the party left me"

What do you think he was referring to if not that the political climate had shifted?

Chris Gimenez

Well Norm, if he thought the values/goals/direction of the party had changed with regard to his own perspectives or beliefs and not the overall mood of the country then I would say he said what he meant and it had nothing to do with the political climate. I think most voters would believe the political climate has to do with a mood or outlook of the voters of a county, state, or the country and not with a political party but I guess you see it a different way.

Miss Priss

Carlos Ponce ...

I agree with what you say but I want to correct you on Henry Trochesset because he told me much differently very early on that he was going to run as a Republican because he said he could not win as a Democrat especially after the 2010 landslide. That is and always was his reasoning for running Republican a desperation to be Sheriff no matter what.

Many people told me early on that have worked with Trochesset for years that he's NOT who you think he is and i did not believe it.... It turns out to be very true. Henry did nothing but campaign for a good 5 years and be very disloyal to some people that helped him without an ounce of gratitude. Those closest to him know this and that he has pulled some very immature stunts along the way. You have no idea.

Steve Fouga

"It’s a much tighter race than we expected,” Henry said. “We really thought people responded well to reducing the size of government and cutting taxes, but I guess not everyone’s on board with that.”

Hahahaha! This is LOL funny! What are you talking about, Mr. Henry? My taxes haven't gone down. The government isn't any smaller!

Carlos Ponce

Jake, in 2011, the Galveston County Tax Rate was.619750. In 2012 Galveston County's Tax Rate was .5991500. In 2013 the Tax Rate was .58370000. My COUNTY taxes went down. Look at the line of each year under entity for Galveston County only. Other taxing entities send their taxes on the same bill. Sometimes city, school district, road and flood, ems, junior college, drainage district, etc are included on the same bill.These are not county taxes although they are sent on the same bill to save these entities money, from maintaining a separate tax office and to keep you from writing multiple checks.

Miss Priss

Carlos Ponce - how much did your property appraisals go up? Also, let's see what the effective tax rate is next year when they run out of the indigent money surplus and have to increase budget for the full implementation of outsourcing of many county services next year.

Carlos Ponce

truthserum, Appraisals have remain steady since 2010, no change.

Steve Fouga

carlosponce -- I don't doubt your numbers. If I had written my earlier post in a more serious tone, I would have said my taxes haven't gone down by a meaningful amount. During my whole voting career, I've never experienced a tax cut that made a noticeable difference in my life. A few hundred bucks here and there. Maybe a thousand. Lower my taxes by 25%; then we can talk.

This is why I don't pay any attention when politicians say they'll lower taxes. It's never enough to notice.

Mick Phalen

truthserum, I agree with you ... Henry's campaign blunders almost cost him the election. Without the mistakes, Henry would have run by the same majority as Meeks.

Looks like the GCTP didn't do to well at the local level. I guess selling their principles for a few pieces of silver and endorsements, or running one of the trashiest campaigns I have seen in my years in League City, or the candidates and supporters boorish behavior at the polls, didn't work out quite as planned.

Maybe they should try a positive message and run on the principles they profess. Just maybe, they might find that there are many others who share their principles, but not their tactics.

Mick Phalen

... won not run ... (the computer's automatic word completer thinks its smarter than I am - and it could be)

Miss Priss

Had Cheryl Johnson ran for county judge, she would have overwhelmingly beat Mark Henry. Everyone thinks it and wishes it.

Mick Phalen

Mornin' truthserum,

Would Cheryl have needed the endorsement and big $$$ contributions from Democrat trial lawyers?

Bacliff Jumper

I’m new to the forum today and shocked. Mark Henry ran a great campaign. I know that he donated his resources to other candidates in important races. Roxann is Priceless to Galveston County. Please call me dear if I’m off in the wrong direction. Do you know Her? She’s an inspiration for Class and being a Lady. Attaching her is so shallow.

Judy Foster

Paula, Roxanne wasn't "priceless" in her own precinct. She finished 3rd for Pct. Chair. That's my pct. and I didn't vote for the "priceless" person. You say she is an inspiration and class act. I bet the business' she threaten think different. As far as Henry running a good campaign, hahaha. A woman that nobody knew almost won. I'd be concerned if I were him.

Miss Priss

Paula Smith ..... Roxann has a bad reputation with people due to her meddling and black balling.

Mick Phalen

Hi Paula,

Welcome to the forum - but remember, the haters lurk in the shadows, waiting for the opportunity to show their (cl)ass.

Miss Priss

Hey Paula ... We might not think each is classy but be assured we tell the truth as we see it!

I like it when people pull out the word classy to chastise others they don't agree with in the first place. It sort of places them in the same category.

Mick Phalen

Truthserum, I didn't have you in mind with my comment - you tend to express your opinion without venom, and I'll always respect that ...

Judy Foster

Mick, Mick, Mick...I guess your memory is fading. You need to go back and reread your post. You are always "hating" on Heidi Theiss and the Tea Party. You need to get over the FACT and TRUTH that they sent you packing from LC City Council. Not by a few votes but by a landslide.

Miss Priss

I know Mic and I don't take anything personally on these blogs .... Just priming our newbie Paula Smith.

Mick Phalen

Sweet Judy,

It's not hate - it's distrust ...

Mick Phalen

During the recent primary election campaign, I repeatedly asked why the “conservative” Galveston County Tea Party candidates would solicit campaign contributions and endorsements from liberal Democrats ($60,000 from Friendswood trial lawyer Buzbee to Hatmaker, and a robocall endorsement of Cox by Houston trial lawyer Steve Mostyn). I was met with personal attacks and accusations of lying, but no explanation of the connection with Democrat trial lawyers and the Galveston County Tea Party.

The answer became clearer this morning. While having coffee and browsing internet news sites, I ran across this headline on “Texas Trial Lawyers' Effort to Influence Republican Primary Fails” ( The article explains the trial lawyers’ efforts to take over the Texas Supreme Court by electing their liberal friends in the Republican primary – Robert Talton, Joe Pool, and Sharon McCally. (All three lost.)

The names reminded me of a flyer I received – “Dam Good Times Recommends These Conservative Republican Candidates” - which, in addition to endorsements for GCTP candidates Hatmaker, Quintanilla, Cox, Morris, and Alvarez, they endorsed - - - Robert Talton, Joe Pool, and Sharon McCally.

Coincidence? Combined with Democrat trial lawyer Buzbee’s $60,000 gift to Hatmaker and Democrat trial lawyer Mostyn’s robocall endorsement of Cox, it appears to me that there is only one of three possibilities for the folks who want to take over our county and municipal governments: 1) The leadership of the Galveston County Tea Party was ignorantly blind, 2) they looked the other way and sold their professed principles for a few pieces of silver, or 3) a knowing quid pro quo.
In any of the cases, disgusting politics, at best.

Paul Smith

Mick, thanks for the explanation. The Dam Good Times flyer was a real piece of art and found its way to the polls. Someone was VERY clever!!

Odd, but I cannot find where the Secretary of State shows registration of the name "The Dam Good Times, LLC". Also I can not find a PAC registry.

Maybe I am missing something. Is there is more to this story?

Mick Phalen

IMO, The Dam Good Times, LLC is the latest in political campaign literature which shows up in LC and the county around election time - - anonymous, with hidden funding sources. Likely has the same people behind it.

I not a fan of PAC's (I know, they are legal), but, at least a name can be attached to them.

You would hope the DA's Public Integrity Unit was created to investigate, and put an end to this disservice of honest elections.

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