Barack Hussein Obama did not win Texas or Taylor County, but the 47- year-old Illinois senator collected the electoral votes necessary to secure his position as the nation’s 44th president and first black president.
Obama, 47, defeated Sen. John Mc-Cain after accumulating substantially more than the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidential office. McCain won Texas’ 34 electoral votes 55 percent to Obama’s 44 percent, but after securing several swing states early in the night, it became evident that Obama would be the victor. The Illinois senator lagged far behind John McCain in Taylor County with McCain securing 72.36 percent of the vote compared to Obama’s 26.73 percent.
With an Obama figurine and mask on a shelf, a large white flag emblazoned with the Democratic donkey and a similarly styled cake waiting to be cut in the kitchen, a dozen or so people gathered around the TV, watching the election results on the screen between two life-sized posters, one of a smiling Obama and one of a saxophone-playing Bill Clinton.
The atmosphere was marked by relaxed attentiveness; individuals carried on soft conversations with one another. Several wore patriotic red, white and blue garb, others T-shirts colored with the smiling face of Obama.
With each state called blue, the crowd burst into joyous shouts and hi-fived each other. As CNN declared the new president elect, the crowd’s fervor peaked as it celebrated the election of its candidate. After a night of disappointment for local Democrats, the national nominee, at least, triumphed.
“He inspires people and he’ll be able to bring people together; I think he’s going to have a real rough road, but hopefully he’ll be able to make some changes and make things better for our country,” said Sammye Stuart, a volunteer for the Taylor County Democratic Party chapter.
Although the Democratic Party excelled on the national stage, in local and state races the Republicans won the night. Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn defeated Democrat Richard Noriega after securing 55 percent of the vote with more than half of the precincts reporting. In Taylor County Cornyn won 73.28 percent to Noriega’s 24.43 percent.
In the House of Representatives, Republican Randy Neugebauer once again claimed his seat as U.S. Representative of District 19 after winning 72 percent of the votes in his district. Democrat Dwight Fullingim won 24 percent of the votes, and Libertarian candidate Richard Peterson claimed 2 percent of the votes. In Taylor County Neugebauer won with 71.43 percent compared with Democrat Dwight Fullingim, who received 25.77 percent of the vote.
In the race for State Representative, District 71, incumbent Susan King won by an overwhelming majority with 88.55 percent of the vote, defeating Libertarian Michael Walton who garnered only 11.45 percent.
The new sheriff in Taylor County is Republican Les Bruce, who won after receiving 70.69 percent of the vote, giving him a win over Democrat Art Casarez who gained 29.31 percent.
Curtis Tomme, chairman of the Taylor County Republican Party, said he believed the unpopularity of President Bush played a large role in Obama’s victory.
“People are frustrated with Bush and the current Republicans in office; that’s what turned the tide, the one thing that McCain couldn’t overcome,” Tomme said.
Tomme also had advice for future voters.
“Look at where you are and look at the current policies that brought the country there and the candidates’ principals and where they can possibly lead the country in the future,” he said.
Larry Fowell, a certified public accountant, voted for McCain and watched the election to the very end.
“I’m disappointed but I’m not discouraged. We need to hold our elected officials accountable and realize that we didn’t elect a king; we elected a president, and the Government is not our main leader, the Lord is,” Fowell said.
Chris Carey, chair of the Taylor County Democratic Party, was optimistic about the changes Obama could bring to the country.
“I think everyone is going to be better off,” Carey said. “Middle class is going to be better off. Just in general, everyone is going to be better off. I think overall, having Obama as president is going to be good for the economy, just a lot of the social programs. It’s going to be a good thing.”
Laura Acuff, Tanner Anderson, Ryan Self and Daniel Johnson-Kim contributed to this story.
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