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Prop 15 not so popular in Travis County

So Proposition 15 passed by a solid margin, with over 61% of voters statewide supporting it. But it turns out that Travis County, home of Prop 15 uber-supporter Lance Armstrong, nearly rejected it. What’s up with that?

Proposition 15 just squeaked past there, winning 50.29 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results, as opponents staged a late drive in Central Texas to defeat it.

Williamson, Burnet, Blanco, Caldwell and Bastrop counties voted against Proposition 15, and Hays barely supported it. Most of the state’s urban counties — Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and El Paso — were on the Proposition 15 bandwagon.

Here’s a spreadsheet of the returns for Prop 15 in each county, sorted by approval percentage. A total of 60 counties voted against Prop 15, the largest being Williamson (9,292-13,739), Lubbock (5.455-6,161), and Smith (9,797-9,823). Most of the naysayers were much smaller, and the total margin of defeat in all 60 counties combined was about 10,000 votes. The margin of victory in Tarrant County alone (43,507-27,107) would have been enough to overcome them.

As such, I find the crowing by the opponents to be, well, a little odd.

“Most people think of Travis County as a liberal big-government haven,” said Wes Benedict, chair of the Travis County Libertarian Party, which opposed the proposal. “Seeing Prop. 15 almost defeated in Lance Armstrong’s backyard is very satisfying.”

I know I just said that there’s no “almost” in politics. You win or you lose – there are no consolation prizes, no moral victories, and as we well know these days, no assurance that a close win will have any temporizing effect on the winner. That said, obviously one looks at each election’s results to see where opportunities exist to make gains in the future. Only problem here is that Prop 15 will never be on the ballot again. It’s enshrined in the Constitution, and the money has been authorized for allocation. Passage by one vote or a million, it’s all the same. If you want to claim a moral victory for almost defeating it in one particular county, even though actually doing so would have meant nothing for the final outcome, well, if it makes you feel better, I guess go right ahead. I confess, I don’t quite get it.

David Rogers, an attorney who lives in Pflugerville, said he voted against Proposition 15 but supported several other proposals on the ballot.

Proposition 15 “is a blank check to whoever the researchers are,” he said, “and generally, I think blank checks are bad ideas.”

Rogers said he wasn’t swayed by Armstrong’s or Perry’s participation but did take note of a group that called the proposal a cancer tax.

That group was Austinite Don Zimmerman’s political action committee, Prop15 Families Against Cancer Tax. The group organized late and raised just $3,500, Zimmerman said. But it put up 50 signs in the area and held a news conference and a debate.

Proposition 15 supporters acknowledged that made a difference.

“A late-in-the-game, solid push by the opposition — centered in Travis County — bounced the numbers down a little,” Lance Armstrong Foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane said, “but not enough to detract from the tremendous victory the proposition received.”

Zimmerman said that many Austin-area opponents of Proposition 15 are, like him, supporters of presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Lake Jackson Republican who’s gained traction on the Web in recent months and this week received more than $4.2 million in campaign contributions in nearly 24 hours.

“Ron Paul supporters do not believe in socialism,” said Austinite Robert Morrow, a local Paul volunteer, “so they targeted this proposition as the worst example of wasteful big-government spending.”

And they failed to achieve any practical effect whatsoever. You can draw your own analogy to the Paul for President campaign, or indeed to his entire career in politics, as you see fit.

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2 Comments

  1. I voted against it. The state has unmet immediate needs, and I was afraid that under the current regime the money would/will turn into a huge sop for Big Pharma, with little oversight and no assurance of return on investment. Time will tell.

  2. wcnews says:

    Lance Armstrong and Rick Perry fatigue.