March 12, 2014
By Andra Lim
ROUND ROCK —
Incumbent Rick Kennon won the 368th District Court Judge race by 12 votes after outstanding Williamson County ballots were tabulated — a margin so slim that his opponent, Donna King, could request a rare ballot recount.
Leander Municipal Judge King, who received 49.97 percent of the vote to Kennon’s 50.03 percent, said she wouldn’t decide Tuesday whether to ask for a recount.
The results reflect 24,756 ballots cast on election day and during early voting for the March 4 Republican primary, in addition to 12 provisional, overseas and military ballots that were tallied Tuesday. Since no Democratic candidate is running, the primary determines the race.
The judge seat for the 368th district court, which handles civil and felony criminal cases in Williamson County, became wide open after Judge Burt Carnes announced he would retire after 24 years last fall. Gov. Rick Perry tapped Kennon in October to fill the position, which pays a salary of $148,000 a year.
Kennon and King said the race may have been close because they both ran “positive” campaigns and had more than a decade of experience in the courtroom.
Both also fundraised considerably more than most other campaigns in the county. Kennon brought in $39,094.62 and contributed $2,400 out of his own pocket, campaign finance documents show. King raised $20,200 and loaned her campaign $49,750.
“It’s pretty humbling to win by such a small, small margin, but obviously I’m thankful and ready to serve for the next four years,” Kennon said.
King, who could request a recount of all ballots on the grounds that the margin was less than 10 percent of the winner’s votes, has until March 28 at the latest to submit a petition.
After election day, when King was trailing by 17 votes, her campaign approached voters who cast provisional ballots because they could not produce required ID and urged them to bring ID to the voter registrar so their votes would be accepted.
Kennon said he was “not sure a recount would change the results” but that King had “every right to ask for one.”
If King asks for a recount, the state Republican Party chair would decide whether to approve it, a Texas Secretary of State spokeswoman said. King would be required to submit a nearly $9,000 deposit to cover the cost of tabulating all ballots again.
The race would have triggered an automatic vote recount if the two candidates received the same number of votes.
This story has been updated to correct an error regarding who decides whether to grant a candidate’s request for a recount.