Orange County is now as Republican as it once was Democratic. For the past 35 years, the county remained steadily Democratic even though the rest of the state turned Republican. Even though Republican presidential candidates would carry the county, the local and state offices were held by Democrats for more than a century. That changed this year with Republicans not only winning, but dominating the election returns. The final total number of Orange County voters ended up at 30,827, about 900 more than in 2008. Of the total votes cast, 54.5 percent, or 16,801, were straight ticket ballots. The Republicans had 72.6 percent of the straight tickets with the Democrats at 26.42 percent. The Libertarian and Green parties had a fraction of a percentage. The Republicans won their first county race 10 years ago with Cimron Campbell becoming a justice of the peace. Four years later Democrat Derry Dunn defeated Campbell. Then in 2010 Republican Jody Crump won the Precinct 4 county commissioner's seat against Democrat Beamon Minton. A number of elected officials foresaw the trend. In 2011 the Orange County Republican Party announced that sitting officials District Judge Dennis Powell, County Court-at-Law No. 2 Judge Troy Johnson, Precinct 1 County Commissioner David Dubose and constables Chris Humble, Mark Philpott and Weldon Peveto were switching parties from Democrat to Republican. All won their races Tuesday with only Dubose and Humble drawing opponents. David Dubose's cousin, Precinct 3 County Commissioner John Dubose, was seeking a fourth term as a Democrat but lost to Republican John Banken, a former Bridge City Mayor. The votes mean that the five-member Commissioners Court now has a Republican majority for the first time in modern history. County Judge Carl Thibodeaux and Precinct 2 Commissioner Owen Burton remain Democrats. Their positions will be up for election in 2014. In the only countywide election, Republican Mandy White-Rogers beat Democrat Michael Abbott 21,610 to 8,454, or 71.88 percent to 28.12 percent.
In the presidential race, Orange County had 23,361 for Mitt Romney, or 76.13 percent, with 6,797 for Barack Obama, or 22.15 percent. Republican Ted Cruz carried Orange County in his successful race for the U.S. Senate from Texas. Cruz had 21,866 or 72.59 percent, to Democrat Paul Sadler with 7,562, or 25.10 percent.
Republican Steve Stockman will be Orange’s new congressman from the newly-created District 36. Stockman had 21,574 votes, or 72 percent, in Orange County compared to Democrat Max Martin with 7,364, or 24.6 percent. Libertarian Michael K. Cole of Orange County had 1,006, or 3.36 percent of the local vote for the congressional seat. Republican Kevin Brady of the Woodlands, who represented Orange for nearly 10 years, handily won re-election to his District 8 seat.
Orange County was also moved to different districts in the Texas Legislature. Republican Sen. Robert Nichols of Jacksonville ran unopposed for his District 3 seat. State Rep. Allan Ritter of Beaumont won re-election to his District 21 seat as a Republican. Ritter was a long-time Democrat who won re-election as a Democrat in 2010, but switched parties before the state legislature convened in January 2011.
That means Orange County now has Republican representation in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and both houses in the Texas Legislature.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-