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25% voter turnout in Hidalgo, Cameron counties

MARIO GONZALEZ/ THE RIDER GRAPHIC

More than 125,000 people from Cameron and Hidalgo counties voted in the Texas primary elections, in which Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz won their respective party’s vote for the state.

“Anybody who was looking for greater clarity got some on the Democratic side but not on the Republican side,” said Mark Kaswan, a political science professor at UT Rio Grande Valley. “So, I would say that on the Republican side, the field is pretty much as muddy today as it was when they started voting [Tuesday].”

Texas has a record number of registered voters at 14.2 million but only about 30 percent voted in the primary, a Texas secretary of state official said.

Clinton won 65.21 percent of the Democratic vote, compared with Cruz, who won 43.75 percent of the Republican vote statewide.

In Hidalgo County, Clinton won the Democratic vote by taking 40,276 votes of the 58,320 cast. Among the Republican candidates, Cruz garnered the most votes, 7,098 of 18,652.

“Unofficially, for Democrats, we had 63,233, again without the final, final count. That’s the unofficial. And for Republicans, record high, over 18,734,” Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramón said about the number of votes cast in the primary. “Unexpected from what I’m listening on the news throughout the state.

… Historically, 2008 was the largest voter turnout. They had 5,726, so having 18,734 is a new record.”

Ramón said the numbers were still unofficial because they are awaiting a few mail-in ballots from overseas and provisional voter ID ballots that need to processed.

Hidalgo County has 317,730 registered voters, but only 81,967 people voted, which is about a 25 percent voter turnout.

In Cameron County, 44, 475, or 25 percent, of the 185,720 registered voters cast ballots. Clinton received 20,326 votes of the 29,799 cast in the Democratic race. Cruz edged fellow Republicans with 4,451 votes of 12,634 cast. Donald Trump came in second with 4,286.

Remi Garza, elections administrator for Cameron County, said the number of voters in the Democratic primary was higher than average.

“In 2008, they had almost 50,000,” Garza said. “It’s not the highest turnout, but on average 24,000 to 27,000 is the normal turnout, so it’s above average.”

Garza said the number of votes for the Republican primary almost doubled what they normally see.

“The issue is there was only a 25 percent turnout,” Kaswan said. “So, we can’t really say for sure whether these results really reflect the preferences of the people of Cameron County because 75 percent of the voters didn’t vote.”

The political science professor said that although Cruz won Texas, Marco Rubio won Minnesota and Trump won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Vermont, they each still have a tough road ahead of them.

“What the results of Super Tuesday really show is that it’s very unlikely that any Republican would go into the convention with a majority of delegates,” Kaswan said. “If nobody has the majority of delegates and you don’t get a first ballot winner at the convention, then it’s very doubtful that Trump would end up with the nomination. … It’s very doubtful that if it goes to what they call a brokered convention–so a convention in which nobody gets the nomination for the first ballot–then I do not think that either Trump or Cruz would end up with the nomination. Who gets it? Your guess is as good as mine.”

Art freshman Dominique Flores said she has mixed feelings about the winners of Super Tuesday.

“Donald Trump has a very interesting image he puts out, and [Hillary] Clinton, well, I get mixed feelings,” Flores said.

“I am very worried, especially, in the Republican side, like who is winning, which obviously [is] Donald Trump and it makes me feel uneasy about it.” Flores was then asked who she thought was going to win the presidency in November.

“There’s a high chance it could be Donald Trump,” she replied. “He’s pretty high on polls but [Trump and Clinton] are neck and neck, so it’s a 50/50 percent chance. I actually don’t know what to expect, but I feel a Republican might win the elections.”

Texas Secretary of State Communication Director Alicia Pierce said this year’s 30 percent statewide voter turnout is higher than in 2012 but not as high as in 2008.

“There was a presidential election, which historically lends itself to higher turnout, and that there was no incumbent,” Pierce replied when asked to what she attributed the increase. “So, there were races in both the Republican and the Democratic primaries, which were perceived as highly competitive.”

For more information on the election, visit VoteTexas.gov.

County Elections

In Cameron County:

–Eddie Treviño Jr., an attorney and former mayor of Brownsville, and Dan Sanchez, an attorney and current Cameron County Pct. 4 commissioner, are in the run-off for county judge.

Treviño received 12,935 votes; Sanchez, 10,705; and Elizabeth “Liz” Garza, 5,769.

–County Attorney Luis V. Saenz won the Democratic race with 14,648 votes to 13,856 by Carlos R. Masso. Saenz will face Republican Jeremy Sorelle in November.

–Incumbent Sheriff Omar Lucio III outpaced Democratic rival Gregorio Puente III by a vote of 20,563 to 8,134. Lucio will face the winner of the Republican run-off between John Chambers and Victor Cortez. Chambers received 3,395 votes; Cortez, 2,662; Robert Rodriguez, 2,365; and Michael Watkins, 2,182.

–Incumbent Pct. 1 County Commissioner Sofia C. Benavides will be in a run-off with Beatrice G. Rosenbaum. Benavides received 3,392 votes; Rosenbaum, 2,335; Fausto “Pato” Martinez, 647; and Joseph Cantu, 517.

–David A. Garza, the incumbent Pct. 3 county commissioner, ran unopposed, receiving 4,761 votes.

–Gus Ruiz defeated Chino Sanchez by a vote of 4,192 to 2,049 for Precinct 4 county commissioner. In Hidalgo County:

–Vicente Gonzalez and Juan “Sonny” Palacios Jr. are in the Democratic run-off for District 15 U.S. representative. Gonzalez received 17,241 votes; Palacios, 8,354; Dolly Elizondo, 5,741; Joel Quintanilla, 5,250; Rance G “Randy” Sweeten, 1,525; and Rubén Ramírez, 1,466.

–In the Republican race for District 15 U.S. representative, Xavier Salinas and Ruben O. Villarreal will face off in a run-off. Salinas received 4,453 votes; Villarreal, 3,515; and Tim Westley, 3,258.

–Renee “Rena” Rodriguez-Betancourt and Jesse Contreras are in the run-off for 449th state district judge. Rodriguez-
Betancourt received 24,508 votes and Contreras, 22,243.

–Marcos Ochoa and Arnaldo Corpus are also in a run-off for Justice of the Peace Pct. No. 3, Place 2. Ochoa received 5,413 votes; Corpus, 4,112; and Leo Gonzalez, 1,584.

–J. E. ‘Eddie’ Guerra won the Democratic nomination for sheriff. He will face off against Republican Albert “Al” Perez in November.

–David Fuentes defeated Democratic incumbent AC Cuellar Jr. in the Precinct 1 county commissioner race. Fuentes received 10,235 votes to Cuellar’s 9,947.

–Democrat Joe M. Flores outpaced Daniel Diaz by a vote of 7,114 to 3,687 for Precinct 3 county commissioner.

-Trisha Maldonado contributed to this post

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