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Sage takes Democratic runoff election

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 by Austin Monitor

With all ballots counted, the Travis County Clerk’s office reported last night that Karen Sage would be the Democratic nominee for Judge of the 299th District Court. Sage will be running unopposed in November for the seat being vacated by Judge Charlie Baird.


Sage beat her rival in the runoff election, Mindy Montford, 59 percent to 41 percent.


Despite press interest, voter turnout was extremely low, with only 11,627 Travis County voters casting ballots in the Democratic runoff, or 2.14 percent of county’s total registered voters. Sage’s won 6830 votes while Montford won 4797.


This was Sage’s first run for office and Montford’s second. Sage is an assistant district attorney and Montford is a former assistant district attorney. District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg beat Montford for that office upon the retirement of Ronnie Earle in 2008. 


Sage’s campaign manager Jim Wick attributed her win to a strong grassroots effort by his candidate and her supporters. “We canvassed in over 110 precincts” and “knocked on 60,000 doors as a campaign,” Wick told In Fact Daily.


Montford, the daughter of a former state senator, had the support of a number of local luminaries, including Senator Kirk Watson, Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez, consultant David Butts, and Judge Sam Biscoe as well as the Central Labor Council. She also won endorsements from The Austin American-Statesman and Burnt Orange Report.


The Austin Chronicle, however, endorsed Sage, as did a number of large Democratic clubs, including the South Austin Democrats.


Meanwhile, on the Republican side of the joint primary runoff election, turnout was better, though still very low. The Travis County Clerk’s office reported that 14,235 ballots were cast for Republican races, representing about 2.5 percent of the county’s total registered voters.


In the race for the Place 3 spot on the State Supreme Court, Debra Lehrmann defeated Rick Green 56 percent to 44 percent. Lehrmann will face Democrat Jim Sharp, an appellate court judge from Houston, in the November general election.


Educator Marsha Farney defeated Brian Russell to be the Republican nominee in the race for State Board of Education District 10 seat, but it wasn’t won without a fight. Russell was incumbent Cynthia Dunbar’s chosen successor. Farney spent more than $200,000 of her own money – far more than any expenditure in any prior SBOE race  – to secure her nomination in the Republican primary. Despite charges and counter-charges, Farney won with a healthy percentage of the voters. Farney will face Democrat Judy Jennings in the race to replace Dunbar in November.


The race for the District 47 State Representative seat was a little bit closer. Paul D. Workman beat Holly Turner 54 percent to 46 percent, with 6765 votes being cast. He will take on Democratic incumbent Valinda Bolton. And in the race that garnered the least interest from voters, Suzanne Sanders Bellsnyder defeated Craig McColloch for the Precinct 354 Chairman nomination by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent. That number might seem substantial until you realize that Bellsnyder only won by eight votes, 149-137.

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