Almost no one I talked to in the period leading up to the just-finished Republican Party primary election for Potter County judge saw this result coming — which would have been an outright win by one of five candidates running for the seat that’s been held for 20 years by Arthur Ware.
Nancy Tanner emerged the winner in the primary, garnering 50.5 percent of the vote. Texas election law requires the winner of a primary to win 50 percent plus a single vote to avoid a runoff.
Tanner did that — and a little more.
It turned out to be a stronger than expected win for the long-time county administrative assistant. Tanner had been Ware’s right-hand woman for two decades until she got fired from her job last year. The reason Ware dismissed Tanner remain a bit murky.
She then declared her candidacy and set about campaigning hard for the job. Of the four opponents facing her on the GOP primary ballot, two of them looked especially strong. Former Amarillo Mayor Debra McCartt had collected Ware’s endorsement and the support of many leading residents of Amarillo; meanwhile, Bill Bandy, a one-time aide to former state Rep. David Swinford, R-Dumas, declared his candidacy. Bill Sumerford and Jeff Poindexter, both of Amarillo, also decided to run.
It had become a bit of a truism that the race would end up in a runoff to be held May 27, with no one winning the requisite 50 percent plus one vote majority needed for an outright victory.
What turned the tide for Tanner? It well might have been her experience on the job, and the fact that she’d done much of the judge’s job since Ware suffered a devastating stroke in 2010. Tanner was able to parlay that experience into enough votes along the campaign trail to win the contest.
There will be no election this fall, given that no Democrats have filed to run for the seat. Thus, the Nov. 4 election will be a formality. However, only after that date can Tanner assume the title of Potter County judge-elect.
So much for political prognostication.