Darby Secures Victory Amid Gov. Abbott's $1.5 Million Campaign to Oust Him

 

SAN ANGELO, TX — Last night, the suspense at Drew Darby's victory celebration persisted until campaign manager Laramie Stroud revealed that with only 3,000 ballots remaining uncounted in Tom Green County, Darby's lead was insurmountable for challenger Stormy Bradley. The announcement came at 11 p.m., sealing Darby's victory.

In the contentious race for Texas House District 72, the campaign against Darby was marked by aggressive tactics. Darby's campaign strategists estimated that Bradley's efforts to unseat the incumbent involved expenditures of at least $1.5 million. Darby, who has represented HD 72 since defeating Scott Campbell in 2006, was bombarded with negative texts, direct mail, and an approximate $500,000 spent on television ads aired on KLST.

Bradley declined to participate in a formal debate against Darby proposed by San Angelo LIVE! on February 12. Instead, she opted for forums where she could rely on prepared remarks read from index cards—a strategy that may have undermined the effectiveness of the significant financial backing from the AFC Victory Fund, a Political Action Committee with ties to Betsy DeVos that shared a campaign treasurer with Bradley. Despite the influx of external funds, Darby's victory margin was notably slimmer in areas farther from San Angelo's center.

County STORMY BRADLEY DREW DARBY (I) Turnout DARBY % of VOTE
All COUNTIES 10,592 14,008 24,600 56.9%
COKE 348 526 874 60.2%
COLEMAN 979 1,000 1,979 50.5%
CONCHO 245 376 621 50.5%
GLASSCOCK 151 198 349 56.7%
HOWARD 1,766 1,172 2,938 39.9%
IRION 156 237 393 60.3%
REAGAN 179 272 451 60.3%
RUNNELS 682 1,059 1,741 60.8%
STERLING 197 187 384 48.7%
TOM GREEN 5,889 8,981 14,870 60.4%

San Angelo's electorate played a pivotal role in Darby's triumph as the financial underdog, contrasting with the fate of other anti-school voucher incumbents statewide. These incumbents fell to candidates running aggressive campaigns bolstered by endorsements from Donald Trump. However, Abbott's endorsees were unsuccessful in both Abilene and San Angelo. Below is a summary of races featuring Abbott-endorsed challengers against incumbents opposed to taxpayer-funded private school vouchers:

Tx House District Endorsed Challenger Incumbent Abbott's Result
1 (Texarkana) Chris Spencer Gary VanDeaver Runoff
11 (Nacogdoches) Joanne Shofner Travis Clardy Won
12 (Huntsville) Trey Wharton Kyle Kacal* Too close to call
14 (Bryan) Paul Dyson John Raney* Won
18 (Cleveland, Liberty) Janis Holt Ernest Bailes Won
29 (Alvin) Alex Kamkar Ed Thompson* Runoff
44 (Seguin, Gonzales) Alan Schoolcraft John Kuempel Runoff
55 (Killeen, Temple) Hillary Hickland Hugh D. Shine Won
58 (Cleburne) Helen Kerwin DeWayne Burns Runoff
60 (Mineral Wells, Stephenville) Mike Olcott Glenn Rogers Won
71 (Abilene) Liz Case Stan Lambert Lost
72 (San Angelo) Stormy Bradley Drew Darby Lost
87 (Amarillo) Caroline Fairly Four Price* Won
121 (San Antonio) Marc LaHood Steve Allison Won
Data and chart courtesy of Texas Tribune.

In a razor-thin race for Precinct 1 County Commissioner, incumbent Ralph Hoelscher edged out Michele Schniers DeRusso by just two votes, 862-860, prompting a recount. Democrat Danny Cardenas, who ran unopposed in the Democratic Primary, secured 342 votes and will face Hoelscher in the November election.

The race for Precinct 4 Constable, vacated by retiring incumbent Randy Harris, saw Thomas Bigham narrowly defeat Gary Cole, 1,880 to 1,795 votes.

In a decisive local race, incumbent Tom Green County Tax Assessor Becky Robles triumphed over challenger Juan Acevedo with a commanding 86% (12,139 votes) to 14% (1,956 votes) victory margin on Tuesday night.

Additionally, incumbent Bruce Burkett was re-elected as Tom Green County Chairman, defeating Ruth Staton, who was endorsed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, with a 58% (7,271 votes) to 42% (5,182 votes) victory.

Drew Darby (Left) and his wife, Clarisa.

Drew Darby (Left) and his wife, Clarisa.

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Darby's safe for now, but if that Boomer isn't careful not to fall out of touch with the times, he's going to anger the space gods again!

Wow, vote for someone with a stripper's name or Darby, Darby seems the safe bet.

Does anyone know where you can get some homestyle Haitian barbecue in San Angelo? I think Abbott ought to ease up on his resistance to Xerxes in the imperial district and let in a few cooks.

Both Darby and San Angelo Live have stated that Stormy Bradley and Abbott spent one and a half million dollars on a losing effort. Tonight on an Abilene TV station Darby stated that the total is now over two million. I found Stormy's report through the Texas Ethics Commission and found the total expenditure to be a little over seven hundred thousand. Using the same process, I could not find Darby's final report. Tomorrow I'm calling the ethics commission direct. Somebody is being extremely untruthful.

live, Mon, 03/25/2024 - 23:33

There were a few PACs that spent money in support of Bradley as well. You can find one, the AFC Victory Fund, that has the same campaign treasurer as Bradley. You can find them by searching by the treasurer's name "Lisa Lisker" on the TEC website campaign finance reports. There are a couple others that spent money for Bradley, including Abbott's Leadership PAC. Some of it was in-kind, like polling.

Darby started the race with about $850k cash in hand. He was helped greatly by pro-public education PACs, and Charles Butt (HEB).

Regardless, Darby was outspent by a lot and still won TGC by a lot. 

The other rural Republican campaign to look at is Abilene's Stan Lambert (incumbent) vs Liz Case. Lambert was outspent and still won. This Abilene race was very similar to Darby's.

In general there were two types of money folks trying to defeat incumbent Rs. The Abbott out-of-state donors and the Midland oil man Tim Dunn orgs, like the former Defend Texas Liberty PAC renamed to Texas United for a Conservative Majority after the PAC was tied to Nick Fuentes.

Abbott focused on 14 rural Republicans who opposed school choice. The Dunn groups focused on incumbents who voted to impeach Paxton. Some races, like Dade Phelan v Covey in Beaumont have both groups pouring money in to defeat incumbent and speaker Phelan. Mitch Little, who was an attorney for Paxton during the Texas Senate trial, defeated Kronda Tiemisch in Denton County. That was a wild race and Little was baked by the Dunn PAC money while Abbott backed Kronda.

Concerning the motivations of the Abbott money men, I wrote a rather long thread about it on X. I am not too sure many in San Angelo can grasp the grift ESAs will create with our tax dollars. Or care. Especially tea party Republicans who have forgotten that taxation and lavish government spending are more ominous threats to our individual liberties than whatever Agenda 21 is.

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