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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by Jo Clifton
Updated: Dist. 21 offers surprises for both R’s and D’s
By midevening on election night, some longtime observers were laughing and scratching their heads over the surprise results that seemed to be developing in Texas’ 21st Congressional District, the seat being vacated by longtime Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio.
On the Republican side, it was no surprise when Chip Roy, the man endorsed by Sen. Ted Cruz, had a little more than 26 percent of the early vote in the district that sprawls from Southwest Travis County to San Antonio. And conventional wisdom predicted that Roy would be in a runoff with state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs. However, when the early votes were counted, former CIA operative William Negley was in second place with a little more than 18 percent of the vote. In third place on the ballot was Matt McCall at 16.44 percent of the vote, not Isaac.
At 10 p.m., with about a third of the precincts reporting, Negley had 17.4 percent of the vote and McCall had 16.74 percent. Roy was still in the lead with nearly 27 percent of the vote. So, there was probably some nail biting at the Negley and McCall campaigns. Update: Overnight, more votes were counted, and by this morning McCall had nudged out Negley by 1,000 votes. At this point (9 a.m.), Roy is still clearly in the lead at more than 19,300 votes. McCall is second, with 12,088 votes and Negley has 11,088.
Negley is running as a veteran and a man who has personally tracked down terrorists. He has never held a job in Washington, unlike Roy, who touts his experience as chief of staff for Cruz. Voters may have seen the name McCall and thought it was District 10 Rep. Michael McCaul – no relation apparently.
On the Democratic side, a lot of people thought that another veteran, Joseph Kopser, would lead into the primary, and when the early vote was counted, he was ahead with 30.94 percent of the vote. However, Mary Street Wilson, the only woman in the race, not Derrick Crowe or Elliott McFadden, was in second place with 28.08 percent of the vote. Wilson has been a mathematics professor and is currently seeking a doctor of ministry degree.
Wilson told the Austin Monitor after the early vote had been counted that she knew a lot could change, but she expressed optimism and said, “It’s fun to be competitive as the votes start appearing on the screen.” She pointed out that none of the other three candidates on the Democratic ballot had ever run for office before, but acknowledged that Elliott McFadden and Derrick Crowe both had more political experience.
“No, this is a first for me and just one of those stories that you’ve heard all across the country – a female candidate chooses to run because we’ve just got to make things better,” Wilson concluded.
Kopser’s campaign spokesperson, Madison Kaigh, did not want to claim victory before all the votes were counted. However, she said, “We’re really excited about the level of turnout that we’re seeing. It’s historic, and it’s awesome,” and she predicted good things for Democrats in the district in November.
The runoff for these races will be on May 22.
Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol.
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