John Bucy said the outlook for Democrats in the November 2018 general elections in Williamson County is bright — so much so that he’s running for office.
Bucy said the political climate on the national stage — from President Donald Trump’s plummeting approval ratings to Alabama incumbent Roy Moore being defeated for a seat in the U.S. Senate — shows Democrats are gaining momentum.
He said that is happening just as much in state District 136, where Bucy will take a second shot at unseating state Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park.
“We’ve been building the grassroots and have been very successful doing that,” Bucy said. “It’s a Democratic-leaning district. I decided that I wouldn’t miss the opportunity.”
Bucy said the 21 other Democrats who filed to run for county-area offices share his enthusiasm. And he suggested a growing number of Republicans are choosing to switch parties because of not wanting any affiliation with Trump.
“We’d rather have had any other reasonable person be president, but it definitely has energized (people) beyond our base,” Bucy said of Trump.
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Williamson County Republican Party Chairman Bill Fairbrother doesn’t share Bucy’s enthusiasm. National politics does not necessarily mirror what will happen locally, he said.
“They’ve been predicting for years they will make major comebacks,” he said of the county Democratic Party.
The Democrats’ hope to tip the scales next year would be a significant change in an historically conservative county. Nearly every local office is held by a GOP official.
But Bucy noted Democrat Terry Cook’s successful bid last year to serve as Precinct 1 county commissioner and pointed to two Democrats, Heather Jefts and Anne Duffy, who beat Republican opponents to join the Cedar Park City Council.
Dale, who has served as District 136 state representative since 2012, said having no opponents in the March Republican primary election is a good sign of his track record as a state official. He also noted that last time Bucy ran against him in 2014, Dale received 54 percent of the vote.
Candidacy filings for the March primaries showed 22 Democrats filing for local offices compared to 37 Republican filings. Candidates had until Monday to file.
Fairbrother said that gap between the number of Republican and Democratic candidates is another sign the local GOP still enjoys an advantage.
“They’ve made incremental progress on recruiting candidates, but they still don’t have a full slate of candidates in every office,” Fairbrother said. “Before they do that, they are not fully contesting for votes in Williamson County.”
One of the most contested seats in March will be Precinct 4 county commissioner. With Commissioner Larry Madsen not running for a second term, four Republicans and one Democrat have filed for his seat.
Edna Staudt, who has served as Precinct 2 justice of the peace since the mid-1990s, will face her first primary opponent in more than a decade after law expert Bronson Tucker filed for candidacy in early November. The winner of that race will face Democrat Jonasu Wagstaff in the general election.
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Other Republican incumbents, such as County Treasurer Scott Heselmeyer and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Cynthia Long, also face opponents in the March primaries.
Fairbrother said the local GOP does not actively encourage or discourage people to run for office, and that noncontested races typically mean the incumbents are doing a good job.
“We’ll let the voters decide in March,” he said.
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March primary race filings
State Senator, District 5. Brian E. Cronin, Austin (D); Glenn “Grumpy” Williams, Austin (D); Meg Walsh, Round Rock (D). Charles Schwertner*, Georgetown (R)
State Rep, District 20. Stephen M. Wyman, Georgetown (D); Terry M. Wilson*, Georgetown (R).
State Rep, District 52. James Talarico, Round Rock (D); Christopher L. Ward, Round Rock (R); Cynthia Flores, Round Rock (R); Jeremy Story, Round Rock (R).
State Rep, District 136. John Bucy, Austin (D); Tony Dale*, Cedar Park (R).
Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals, Place 2. Edward Smith, Austin (D); Cynthia Olson Bourland*, Round Rock (R).
Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals, Place 3. Chari Kelly, Austin (D); Scott Field*, Austin (R).
Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals, Place 5. Thomas J. Baker, Temple (D); David Puryear*, Austin (R).
Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals, Place 6. Gisela D. Triana, Austin (D); Donna Davidson, Austin (R); Jennifer S. Freel, Austin (R).
District Judge, 277th Judicial District. Stacey Matthews*, Georgetown (R).
District Judge, 368th Judicial District. Rick Kennon*, Georgetown (R).
County Judge. Blane Conklin, Round Rock (D); Bill Gravell, Georgetown (R); Frank Leffingwell, Round Rock (R).
Judge, County Court-at-Law No. 1. Don Morehart, Round Rock (D); Warren Oliver “WOW” Waterman, Georgetown (R).
Judge, County Court-at-Law No. 2. Laura Barker*, Georgetown (R).
Judge, County Court-at-Law No. 3. Doug Arnold*, Georgetown (R).
Judge, County Court-at-Law No. 4. John B. McMaster*, Georgetown (R).
District Clerk. Lisa David*, Georgetown (R).
County Clerk. Jessica Tiedt, Austin (D); Nancy E. Rister*, Georgetown (R).
County Treasurer. Omar Kadir, Round Rock (D); Scott Heselmeyer*, Georgetown (R); Lee Ann Seitsinger, Austin (R).
County Commissioner, Precinct 2. Kasey Redus, Cedar Park (D); Cynthia Long*, Cedar Park (R); Bart Turek, Liberty Hill (R).
County Commissioner, Precinct 4. Carlos Salinas, Round Rock (D); Bobby Sieferman, Round Rock (R); David Marek, Schwertner (R); Heather Peal, Hutto (R); Russ Boles, Round Rock (R).
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1. KT Musselman, Austin (D); Dain Johnson*, Round Rock (R).
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2. Jonasu Wagstaff, Leander (D); Edna Staudt*, Leander (R); Bronson Tucker, Cedar Park (R);
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3. Katherine Kerr Kubatzky, Georgetown (D); Evelyn McLean, Jarrell (R); Deanna Hoff Lewis, Georgetown (R).
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4. Stacy Hackenberg, Round Rock (D); Randall J. Pick, Austin (R); Judy Schier Hobbs*, Hutto (R).
* denotes incumbent; (D) denotes Democrat; (R) denotes Republican.