This November, McLennan County Republicans have a chance to flip a crucial county commissioner seat—one held by a Democrat for more than 28 years.
Lester Gibson, 66, has recently been dogged by accusations of memory loss with some even going so far as to call for his resignation in recent years. Perhaps due to these accusations, Mr. Gibson declined to run for re-election.
The election to replace Gibson will be a face-off between Democrat Patricia “Pat” Chisholm-Miller, who served as Gibson’s administrative assistant for 22 years, and Republican Donis “D.L.” Wilson, a former Texas DPS Sergeant.
Chisholm-Miller received 1,131 votes in the Democratic primary, while Wilson received 1,116 in the Republican primary. In total, 1,423 votes and 1,734 votes were cast in the Democratic and Republican primaries, respectively. This bodes well for Republicans. In what was once a reliably blue precinct, the GOP has never had more primary votes than the Democrats in past elections.
This can perhaps be explained by the changing demographics in the precinct.
McLennan County’s 2nd precinct was once dominated by African Americans but, in recent years, this has begun to shift. There has been significant growth in the white and Hispanic populations of the precinct at the expense of the African American demographic dominance.
While not the most glamorous of elected offices, county commissioners are highly influential at the local level. Commissioners exercise broad policy-making authority and discharge duties such as adopting the county’s budget and tax rate, approve the budgeted purchases of the county, and set salaries and benefits, among other responsibilities.
And they are also well compensated for their service. In McLennan County, commissioners draw a salary of $96,284, far above the county’s per-capita income of $22,878.
If the Republican Party were able to flip this seat, it would solidify its grip on McLennan County, a fast-growing area which will be of ever-increasing importance to Texas Republicans in the future. And the fact that Republicans are making inroads in Democrat strongholds goes to show that the efforts to “Turn Texas Blue” might only result in a deeper shade of red.