Upon being elected to his first and only term as county judge in 2014, Doyal became the leader of the county’s political establishment. He further strengthened his power by getting the other commissioners to cede their constitutional authority to him, and fired his chief rival, Infrastructure Director Mark Bosma.
Doyal’s administration presided over massive spending increases and property tax hikes, and was plagued by ethical problems, grand jury investigations, and an indictment. Voters decided they’d had enough, and turned out for Keough from every part of the county, giving him the majority in all four commissioner precincts.
As the presiding officer over the commissioners court, Keough will have enormous influence over county policy, and an opportunity to follow through on his campaign promises to cut spending, halt toll roads, and put an end to the rampant conflicts of interest in county government.
However, what kind of court Keough will have to work with will be decided in the May 22 runoff. Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley is a close ally of Doyal and the establishment, and is facing a tea party backed challenge from Greg Parker. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark is expected to vote with Keough if re-elected, but is facing James Metts, who is openly hostile to conservatives.
Regardless of the runoffs, taking out Doyal, one of the most powerful officials in the county, was an enormous victory for conservatives. Keough’s election and the change in leadership present a huge opportunity for reform in the years ahead if conservatives continue to stay engaged.