GOP landslide proves historic for Galveston County
GALVESTON — The Republican tide that swept through Galveston County on Election Day had as much to do with the local political landscape as with nationwide dissatisfaction with the economy or the tea party movement, according to political scientists.
Republicans took control of every county office and gained a majority on Commissioners Court for the first time since the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War when the Union army set up governments in conquered Southern states.
Until Tuesday, Republicans held only the Tax Collector-Assessors Office, one Commissioners Court seat and a few judgeships. When newly elected officials take office, the GOP will control every major county office with the exception of a few judgeships and two seats on Commissioners Court that were not on this year's ballot.
The widespread dissatisfaction with the direction of the country that affected elections nationwide played a role, but Hurricane Ike and changing county demographics played an equally important part, said Theron "Bujo" Waddell, who teaches political science at Galveston College, and John Carhart, political science professor at Texas A&M Galveston.
Hurricane Ike drove at least 10,000 residents from their homes in the traditional Democratic stronghold on Galveston Island, Waddell said. "The Democratic base took a hit," Carhart said.
The storm-caused loss of Democratic votes in the southern part of the county added to a GOP tilt caused by growing suburban communities in the north county such as League City and Friendswood. "With that gradual expansion you are also seeing a gradual expansion of the Republican base," Carhart said.
Carhart said the decline in Democratic voters, the growth of Republican strength in the north and the national anti-incumbent atmosphere combined to make a Democratic defeat inevitable. "It's kind of a perfect storm," he said. "It was bound to happen."
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