Outside a polling place in Alpine, TX on Election Day, 2016. (Travis Lux/KRTS)
Donald Trump defied polls and many expectations on Tuesday night to win the presidency over Hillary Clinton, and his unexpected success has emboldened Republicans across Texas.
There weren’t many local competitive races on the ballot in West Texas, with most local offices having only had one party represented in the March primary and therefore decided in that election. Still, the Republican sweep did trickle down to some of the few competitive races in the Big Bend and the Permian Basin.
Check out our live-blog from Tuesday for a look back at how the action unfolded through the night.
In the regional 83rd District Attorney race, Republican Sandy Wilson won against Democrat Jaime Escuder, switching party control of the office. (Democratic incumbent Rod Ponton was ousted from the office by Escuder in the March primary.)
Wilson won in three of the district’s four counties – Brewster, Jeff Davis and Pecos Counties – while Escuder only held onto Presidio County. Around 10 PM Tuesday night, Escuder himself referred to that as a lead that was “probably an insurmountable one.”
Escuder said it was a “bad night for Democrats,” but he commended his opponent for a well-run race.
“She ran a very strong campaign and she’s qualified for the job,” Escuder said. “But unfortunately Mr. Trump – I’m no fan of Donald Trump – I think he tapped into something in people that’s unfortunate, but that resonated, and I do think that some of that affected other races, including mine.”
Ponton, who Wilson will now replace, managed to win a write-in-only race for Presidio County Attorney against challenger Check Stephenson, winning 532 votes to Stephenson’s 242.
Republicans also flipped the only local competitive race in Brewster County, as Betse Esparza ousted incumbent Democratic Precinct 1 Commissioner Luc Novovitch from his seat in a 776 to 478 vote race.
The GOP candidate in the only local race in Jeff Davis County also scored a win – Republican Bill Kitts won the office of Sheriff/Tax Assessor-Collector against Democrat Ken Watson. Kitts won 846 votes to Watson’s 342.
In the Midland County commissioners races, Republican Scott Ramsey easily won against Democrat Amanda Rosales. He’ll replace incumbent commissioner Jimmy Smith. Democrat Luis Sanchez, the incumbent Precinct 3 commissioner, narrowly held onto his seat by 271 votes in a race against Republican Lynn Yarbrough.
Looking at the local vote breakdown for president, Presidio County continued its tradition as a rare blue county in Texas, with voters easily favoring Hillary Clinton by about 800 votes. The Texas Tribune reports that Clinton also carried Culberson and Reeves Counties, but voters went for Donald Trump in Brewster, Jeff Davis, Hudspeth and Terrell Counties.