This story has been updated to include a statement from 83rd District Attorney Rod Ponton.
Alpine lawyer Jaime Escuder pulled a comfortable win over incumbent 83rd District Attorney Rod Ponton in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
Escuder will go on to face Republican challenger Sandy Wilson of Marathon, TX.
In early voting, the race was close – with Ponton down in Brewster County but up in Presidio County. But as final numbers started rolling in, Escuder edged ahead and ultimately won the race by about 700 votes.
Escuder won big in Brewster County – grabbing 1054 votes to Ponton’s 575.
The early voting numbers appeared to be setting Ponton up for an advantage in Presidio County, but Democratic voters there wound up being split – exactly – on their choice in the race.
Escuder and Ponton each received 682 votes from Presidio County.
Escuder pulled an easy majority in Jeff Davis County – with 204 votes to Ponton’s 69 – and topped Ponton by a lesser margin in Pecos County – 777 to 680.
Ponton had campaigned on his familiarity with the Big Bend region and its residents, along with what he described as a proven track-record of aggressively prosecuting cases and cleaning out backlogs of old cases that had yet to be prosecuted.
“‘You know him, I know him. Who is this other guy?'” read part of a “Keep Rod Ponton text message” campaign ad published in a local newspaper.
Still, the incumbent had been heavily criticized by some in the Big Bend region for failing to win the high-profile Terlingua murder case where Tony Flint was found not guilty in the death of La Kiva bar owner Glenn Felts.
Escuder had worked to convince voters that his lack of experience on the job would be made up for by his commitment to integrity, and what he described as the “humility” the job requires.
“It has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life to serve the good residents of the Big Bend as their 83rd District Attorney,” Ponton said in an email. “I wish to thank all my friends and supporters. I especially thank the hard working members of the area law enforcement community.”