Lake Houston residents once again voted in record numbers during early voting and the Nov. 8 election produced at least one very happy “loser.”
Early voting results show only six of Harris County’s 46 early voting locations drew more voters than Kingwood Library. A total of 25,487 voters cast early ballots in Kingwood. Another 18,609 selected their candidates at Humble’s Octavia Fields Library. These totals from Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart do not include votes cast on Election Day at Lake Houston precincts.
Unofficial results for Harris County show 1,336,985 or 61.25 percent of those registered to vote cast their ballot by absentee, in early voting or on Election Day. Of all voters, 45.29 percent voted straight Republican party while 53.20 percent voted straight Democratic party, according to Stanart’s unofficial results.
Those numbers show that, despite national results, portions of Harris County are getting “bluer,” and, considering the number of straight-ticket voters, it was simply too big of a gap for Republican candidates to overcome in county-wide races, suggested Dr. John J. Theis, director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Lone Star College-Kingwood.
“A number of Republican incumbents lost in large part because the Republican presidential nominee underperformed when compared to 2012,” said Theis. “That affected down-ticket races. In 2012, Barack Obama received 49.4 percent of the vote with Romney receiving 49.3 percent, but in 2016, Hillary Clinton received 54.2 percent while Donald Trump received 41.8 percent.”
The Tribune focused on six races of interest to Lake Houston residents. The results:
District 127 State Representative
Incumbent Dan Huberty (49,674 votes or 81.9 percent), a Republican, kept his seat with a comfortable margin of votes cast with opposition from Libertarian Scott Ford (7,481 – 12.33 percent) and Green Party candidate Joseph McElligott (3,496 – 5.76 percent).
“I'm grateful for everyone's continued support,” State Representative Huberty said, “and I'm looking forward to achieving great things for House District 127 residents and all Texans in the 85th legislative session.”
Precinct 4 Constable
Incumbent Mark Herman (206,400 – 60.95), a Republican, appointed last year after Ron Hickman was named Harris County Sheriff, bested Democrat Jeff McGowen (132,228 – 39.05).
“It is very humbling to me to be elected by the citizens we serve,” Herman said. “The Constable’s Office will continue to deliver the best professional law enforcement product to our communities. The employees of the Precinct 4 Constable's Office make our department so successful that it is an extreme honor to work beside each of them daily.”
Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace
Incumbent Lincoln Goodwin (205,705 – 61.14), a Republican, who was appointed to his position after serving as a Harris County assistant district attorney, bested Vicky Reynolds, a Democrat (130,746 – 38.86).
County Tax Assessor-Collector
Current Tax Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan (639,527 – 49.69), a Republican and Kingwood resident, lost his re-election bid to Democrat Ann Harris Bennett (647,382 – 50.31). Bennett lost to Sullivan four years ago by 2,400 votes.
In responding to his loss, Sullivan said, "I've been honored to serve the citizens as Harris County tax assessor-collector for the last four years. It's been rewarding to have led an organization in its efforts to improve customer service, embrace technology and advocate for taxpayers. I will sleep well knowing that I left this office better than I found it."
Harris County Sheriff
Incumbent Ron Hickman (606,570 – 47.17), a Republican and previous Precinct 4 Constable before being appointed Harris County sheriff, was edged out by former Houston City Council Member, Houston Police Investigator and Democrat Ed Gonzalez (679,232 – 52.83).
Precinct 4 County School Trustee
Kingwood resident Marilyn Burgess, (160,430 – 44.01), a Democrat, lost her first bid for elective office to Eric Dick, (204,063 – 55.99) a Republican.
Area political leaders praised the hard work of their party faithful.
“I am proud of the work our Kingwood Area Democrats put in on behalf of our local candidates,” said President Kevin McManis. “It paid off, handing the GOP what they said was their worst defeat in more than 70 years in Harris County. Plus, the county went strong for Hillary, so I think we’ve proven that, when most county voters turn out, the county has a Democratic majority.”
Dr. Janie Branham, president of the Kingwood Area Republican Women, said, “We lost some very good public servants who have served us admirably for years. They ran great campaigns, but sometimes there are forces at work that make it too difficult to have victory even though you work hard and dedicate yourself to the highest level of service. I can only say thank you and God's blessings for all that you have done.”
The one happy “loser” must be “Mattress Mack,” Gallery Furniture store owner Jim McIngvale, who expects to refund some $10 million to the four thousand or so customers who bought a mattress set and selected Donald Trump as the presidential winner.
McIngvale, who spoke recently at the Lake Houston Chamber’s annual Focus on Small Business luncheon, gave his customers the option of receiving a 100 percent refund or a 150 percent price value on a future Gallery Furniture purchase. All they had to do was select the winner of the national election for president.
He’ll hand out the refunds at a Dec. 11 party for the lucky winners.
Theis encourages Lake Houston residents to sign up to register to vote by visiting lonestar.turbovote.org. The website will send a link to register and text reminders of elections and polling places.