2012 Election
8:31 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Live Blog: It's Election Night in Austin

1 a.m.: And That's a Wrap

Thanks for staying with KUT News this election night. For KUT News' complete election night coverage, click on the 2012 Election tag. 

11:30 p.m.: More Races From Around the State 

Here's more races from around the state KUT News has been watching, 

State Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, defeated former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Beaumont, in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Ron Paul in the 14th Congressional District.

Democratic incumbent Wendy Davis managed to eke out a victory over Republican Mark Shelton for the state senate seat in District 10.

10:30 p.m.: Rep. Donna Howard on Plans for Second Term

State Rep. Donna Howard is going to hold on to her District 48 seat. It’s a far cry from her 2010 election, where she narrowly won.

“It’s very different than it was last election,” Howard tells KUT News. “And redistricting certainly was a part of that. The fact is I have a 60 percent new district this time.”

So what are Howard’s plans for the 2013 Legislative Session?

“What I hear from my constituents they’re very concerned about the cuts to public education and the cuts to the women’s health program and family planning. I think we’re going to have to look at, how do we find sustainable revenue streams that can help provide those things that we expect government to provide. Quality public education is one of those, as well as making sure that women have the health care that they need.”

Rep. Donna Howard delivers a victory speech at the Driskill Hotel.
Rep. Donna Howard delivers a victory speech at the Driskill Hotel.
Credit Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

10:20 p.m.: NETWORKS CALL ELECTION FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA

Both NBC News and Fox News have called the election for President Barack Obama. We'll update this post shortly with local reaction.

9:52 p.m.: Voting a Wrap in Travis County

The Travis County Clerk's office confirms that all voters have voted and polling places have closed. Earlier reports noted that some county polling locations had stayed open for more than two hours after they were supposed to have closed to accommodate voters in line. The Clerk's office tells us the last polls closed around 9:30 p.m.

9:40 p.m.: Cruz Wins, Sadler Concedes

Ted Cruz is the new U.S. Senator from Texas.

Following his defeat of Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the GOP primary, Cruz was heavily favored to win in the red state of Texas. The Texas Tribune has more.

Speaking in Houston tonight, Cruz said the following about joining the Senate:

“If President Obama wins, and I don’t believe he will but if he does, If President Obama means what he says on the campaign trail, if he is interested in working to bring people together to reduce the deficit and get people working, then I will work with him. But if he is reelected and intends to continue down the same path then I will spend every waking moment working to lead the fight to stop it.”

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Paul Sadler’s race was declared early in the evening, and the former State House Representative delivered a brief concession speech at the Democratic celebration inside the Driskill Hotel.

KUT News asked Sadler if Texas was ready to elect a Democrat to statewide office.

“There’s a large amount of disbelief, not only with the media but the people in general and the big donors, that the time is not yet right for a Democrat to win statewide. I disagree with that. But that’s not my choice,” Sadler said in the interview. “The national party made that decision early on. Every question I was asked from the very first day I filed by the media was that question. And it’s obviously in the public’s mind as well.”

9:12 p.m.: Results Trickling In From Travis County; No Substantive Change to Early Voting Numbers

The title says it all: Travis County has released its first round of early voting totals, but the reported numbers are so low the early voting percentages remain unchanged.

8:56 p.m. State Sen. Watson on Medical School Proposition

Based on early voting totals alone, the race is tight for Central Health Proposition 1, which would raise taxes by $50 annually per $100,000 of property value to help pay for a medical school in Austin. Early returns show the measure leading 54 percent to 46 percent.

"If those numbers hold, then I don't think we'll have to be worrying what the Plan B looks like," said State Sen. Kirk Watson, one of the most prominent supporters of the proposal. Listen to our interview with him.

8:55 p.m.: Prop 3 Supporter: 10-1 Plan Means ‘A Whole New Kind of Council Member’

Veteran political consultant Peck Young was one of the loudest voices in favor of Prop 3 and its 10 district scenario for the City Council. (You can watch his spirited testimony before the City Council here.)

So naturally, Young had a lot to say when KUT News spoke with him at the Prop 3 watch party at Opal Divine’s on South Congress:

"To be honest with you … what we are going to have is a whole new kind of council member – one that is tied to his area, tied to people that they have to work with and for and we will see if any of these council members can even do that.”

“I think people like [council member] Mike Martinez will be able – if he wants to – to do that. I don't know if any of the rest of them even understand what working for an area means - OK?  Most of them come from one area where they all go to the same grocery store. We'll see whether or not they have the capacity to understand what geographic representation even stands for."

No updated results are in, but Prop 3 leads handily in early voting.

8:38 p.m. No Election Day totals yet

Polls were scheduled to close more than 90 minutes ago, but there are still no Election Day totals from Travis County. So far, we have only seen early voting totals. We are vigorously refreshing the Travis County Clerk's website, waiting for the latest. Long lines may have delayed reporting at some polling stations. 

8:36 p.m. Update from the Driskill Hotel

From KUT freelance reporter Kelly Connelly:

"We're here in the Driskill Citadel Room, where the color blue clearly dominates both men's and women's apparel, though a few red blouses and dresses do spot the crowd (offset nicely by the champagne colored upholstery on both the chairs and walls). There are also a few neutral burnt oranges. The bar is cash only. A semi-circle of jacket-and-tied gentleman crowd the television at the front of the room, gin and tonics in hand, even though it's still early."

8:25 p.m. Republicans Favored in Central Texas SBOE Races

Early voting totals suggest that a more Democratic-friendly State Board of Education District 5 was still not enough to elect a liberal over an incumbent social conservative. Republican State Board member Ken Mercer – who favors abstinence-only education and displaying the 10 Commandments in schools – is leading in early totals 54 percent to 40 percent over Democratic candidate Rebecca Bell-Metereau.

The district used to cover the southern half of Travis County, with the Colorado River serving as a rough dividing line. But during the state redistricting process last year, District 5 was redrawn to include large swaths of urban Austin – downtown, Hyde Park, the University of Texas area, and parts of North Austin up to 2222. Even Mercer acknowledged to us last week that “it’s going to be a closer race. The boundaries were redrawn to make it more Democratic.”

But apparently not that much more Democratic: SBOE District 5 still includes eleven counties that went to Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008. It also includes the northern half of Bexar County.

The other State Board of Education race in Central Texas is tighter, although neither candidate in that race has the advantage of incumbency. Republican Tom Maynard is leading Democratic candidate Judy Jennings 53 percent to 47 percent. 

8:20 p.m.: If Prop 3 Wins, What’s Next for Austin Elections?

Prop 3 does a lot more than call for 10 geographic city council districts. It also requires that a citizen commission draw the district boundaries – and should Prop 3 hold on to the lead, that commission will get to work quickly.

The city charter language in Prop 3 calls for the City Auditor to start looking for commission volunteers next month. The application process stays open until February 2013, and the commission’s final plan is due by December 2013.

The final step, presumably, is Department of Justice pre-clearance of the maps, a requirement in a Voting Rights Act state like Texas. But with City of Austin Props 1 and 2 passing in early voting – both of which would move city elections from May to November – there should be ample time for the DOJ to sign off on the maps.

8:05 p.m.: Pictures from the Travis County Dems’ Party

Photographer Filipa Rodriges sends along these photos from the combined Travis County Democrat’s watch party at the Driskill Hotel. 

7:45 p.m.: First Thoughts on Austin and Central Health Results:

The lion’s share of city propositions – including Props 3 and 4, the dueling forms of geographic representation – and Central Health’s bid for a medical school are all passing in early voting.

Central Health’s Prop 1 is winning, 112,291 to 96,496. With Austin’s Election Day turnout patterns rarely differing widely from early voting, the medical school looks on track to pass.

All city propositions are in the lead, save for Prop 8 (which would create a 30-day period after elections where council members can raise funds to retire debt) and bond item Prop 15, which would dedicate $78 million to affordable housing.  Prop 8 is losing by a wide margin, while Prop 15 is more of a nail biter, with 74,506 votes for and 69,903 against.

The big story may be Prop 3 – the 10-1 plan for geographic representation. With nearly 60 percent, or 88,248 “Yes” votes, Prop 3’s plan for 10 single-member districts looks likely to be Austin’s next form of government. (Prop 4, the 8-2-1 plan is barely eking out a plurality, but in the battle between Props 3 and 4, the one with the most votes wins.)

After six unsuccessful votes on geographic representation, it truly looks like the seventh time was the charm. 

7:41 p.m.: 10-1 Supporters Toast Early Voting Results

Supporters of a city ballot proposal to elect ten city council members by individual geographic districts are feeling good about early voting totals. The so-called 10-1 plan is up against a competing 8-2-1 proposal that would create eight individual council member districts and elect two council members city-wide. In both systems, the mayor would be elected city-wide.  

Early voting totals show the 10-1 plan leading 59% to 41%. The 8-2-1 proposal polled 51% to 49% in early voting. Whichever gains a greater percentage of votes wins. 

"That’s making us feel pretty good right now," says Jessica Ellison, spokesperson with Austinites for Geographic Representation, which has been pushing the 10-1 plan. 

7:33 p.m. The Scene at the Driskill Hotel:

 Early voting totals are in and while there are still many votes to be counted, we have our first glimpse at election results in Travis County. Central Health's Proposition 1, which would help pay for a medical school in Austin, is currently facing narrow approval. We also have a slew of results for local school board candidates and city propositions. Check out the early returns here.

Reporter Mose Buchele is at the Driskill Hotel, and he filed this report. 

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