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Republican race for one Travis County’s commissioner’s job heats up

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 by Michael Kanin

The race for the Travis County Pct. 3 Commissioner Republican slot on the November 2012 ballot was looking like a relatively quiet affair until last week. Then, the addition of former Commissioner Gerald Daugherty to the contest turned it into a powder keg.


In Fact Daily has learned that Daugherty’s late entry into the 2012 battle for his old seat came only after he became convinced that incumbent Karen Huber, a Democrat, would run to keep her current position. “I really, really don’t want Karen Huber representing Precinct 3 for another four years, and I’m really afraid that if I’m not in the race, Karen might win,” he said.


Daugherty adds that the recent fight over Travis County redistricting also served to inform his decision. “Not only was I moved by hearing that she was going to run, but the thing that really got to me was… (when) the district lines got drawn.”


Huber has adamantly opposed the Travis redistricting process on the grounds that, though it had the ability to do so, the court did not act to make her jurisdiction less Republican. For Daugherty, however, the region became much more blue.


“The only thing that Karen Huber didn’t get was Shady Hollow…(and) Travis Heights,” he said. (Daugherty insinuated that Huber did not get what she wanted: to rid the precinct of Shady Hollow and gaining the more Democratic Travis Heights.)


This all came as something of a surprise to fellow Republican challenger Jim Strickland. Strickland is a former Eanes ISD Board member. He filed papers indicating his intention to run in the Precinct 3 race in July. “I told Gerald even back when he was in office, ‘Hey, when you’re done, let me know because I’m interested in this race,’” said Strickland.


Still, Strickland says that he’d already heard whispers about a potential Daugherty run from Travis County Republican Party chair Rosemary Edwards as far back as November 2010. In December, Strickland says that Daugherty told him that Jason Nassour and Dwain Rogers might enter the race. He said that Daugherty added that the field was going to be “awful crowded” and that the Republican Party didn’t “need a real bloodbath in the primary.”


Strickland told In Fact Daily that he, Daugherty, and Nassour met at an IHOP before last Christmas to discuss the run for Huber’s seat. “I left that meeting thinking ‘okay, if Jason’s going to run, I can deal with that,’” Strickland said.


“That’s where we left it,” he added.


Daugherty confirms that the meeting happened, that the discussion centered on the 2012 Pct. 3 race, and that he wasn’t thinking of becoming a candidate at that point. “I think a lot of Jim,” he says, adding that he wouldn’t have gotten into the race unless he thought Huber was going to run.


Then, just before Labor Day, Strickland says that Daugherty called him and said that he was thinking about a campaign. Strickland adds that, after making the decision to take another crack at his former seat, Daugherty “tried to elbow me out of the way.”


“But I said, ‘Look, I’m running,’” he said.


Strickland likes his chances. “(Daugherty) and Huber can have their fights over in their sandbox,” he said. “I’m running on solutions for Travis County.”


Strickland promises to focus on public safety and what he calls getting “back to basics.” “Governments need to be trimmed,” he said.


Daugherty served as Travis County Commissioner from 2002 until he was unseated by Huber in 2008. He says that his run has nothing to do with that loss. “I’m not running against Karen Huber because she beat me in 2008,” he said. “I just don’t like the way she governs.”


Though he heavily criticizes Huber for her decision to abandon the SH45 project, he says that that is just a “barometer” for the way that she does business. “(Huber) has gotten to be somebody who we can hardly work with over there,” he said.


Dec. 12 is the deadline for filing for a place on the 2012 ballot.

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