With a commanding lead in early voting numbers across the 51-county district, Pratt on Texas called the race for Charles Perry early Tuesday evening.
Charles Perry handily bested his five competitors winning more than 53% of the vote with second-place finisher Jodey Arrington coming in at a distant 30%. The only self-professed Democrat in the open, special election was Greg Wortham who struggled to pull 13% and only pulled 34% in Nolan County where until resigning to run he served as mayor of Sweetwater.
Perry won Lubbock County’s early vote with 54.63% and Jodey Arrington pulled only 30.31%. Those percentages held steady throughout the election day vote. The raw Lubbock County early vote difference of 8,574 for Perry and 4,757 for Arrington showed it to be very unlikely that Arrington could push Perry out of out-right victory and into a runoff early in the counting – especially because the other heavy vote center of the district is Tom Green County (San Angelo) and in the early vote, Arrington still lost ground to Perry despite pulling a close percentage of 39.84% and 40.25% for Perry. Arrington ultimately bested Perry in Tom Green and San Angelo but by only 93 votes (39.92% to 38.13%).
Even without election day totals or all of the early vote reported, it became clear that the Arrington camp, or any other, could not push the race into a runoff “unless enough people bought into the last minute commercials” as KFYO’s Chad Hasty put it. Voters didn’t buy.
One rural GOP county chairman put it to me this way on election night: “Arrington ran a big-media campaign, Charles Perry ran a press-the-flesh campaign.” The chairman told me that while Perry personally called him asking for assistance in meeting voters in the county, Arrington never made such a personal call but had emissaries do the work. (As a former county chairman I can tell you that a personal call is far more effective – and expected.)
The Perry campaign put much effort into Rep. Perry visiting all 51 counties early in the process as well as a very personal outreach to local opinion leaders. “People still want to meet people. I made every effort I could to get in front of the people throughout the District,” Charles Perry said on our Townsquare Media/KFYO election night show. I had asked him to what he attributed the big wins in counties far from where he had any name I.D. or voter familiarity.
Jodey Arrington said, on the election show, that Charles Perry was essentially an incumbent with much more name I.D. While this is true in Lubbock it was not true for much of the district still won heavily by Perry – where both had no name I.D. or voter familiarity. Arrington also repeatedly said that lower than expected numbers were the result of a “timing issue.”
However, Arrington had as much time as anyone to plan the campaign well before the vacancy in the office was made official or an election date set. In fact, Arrington was making calls and raising money well before the declaration of a vacancy, such is how he was able to come out with an initial funding announcement of $200,000.
West Texas Democrats continued their gloomy fortunes with Greg Wortham, the only professed Democrat in the open, special election race, only pulling about 13% across the 51-county district. Worse for Democrats, he only won 34% of the vote in Nolan County in which he had served as Sweetwater mayor until resigning to run for the senate.
Wortham’s extremely poor performance in Lubbock County casts doubts on Democrat hopes across House District 83 of being able to muster enough votes for their executive committee nominated candidate Max Tarbox to beat the GOP’s candidate to fill the seat, until now occupied by Charles Perry, Dustin Burrows.
Hospitalized 90-year-old former state Rep. Delwin Jones pulled less than 2% in the race. Pro-homosexual agenda and marijuana legalization candidate Kerry Douglass McKennon didn’t even up a full percentage point. And, Republican repeat SD28 candidate E.M. Garza of Wolfforth also failed to pull even one percent of the total vote.