County Judge candidates will not face off in primaries

Published 12:34 am Friday, February 11, 2022

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Carolyn Guidry are not facing challenges from within their own party so there will be no worry about who faces off against each other following the primaries this spring.

They are destined for a November election showdown.

When she first filed, Guidry said her biggest priority, if elected, would focus on revamping the county’s emergency management division.

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Branick disputes such a need.

“With regard to emergency management, Jefferson County has received well over over $1 billion in hurricane relief funding over the last 10 years,” he said. “Our county has had more emergency and disaster declarations than almost every other county. Despite this, the budget of our emergency management department is less than half the budget of similarly sized counties.”

Branick also said that Guidry was very critical of the commissioners’ court during her tenure as county clerk, specifically over funding for her office.

“The budget increases requested during my tenure were justifiable, such as a pay increase for employees and additional funding for the election department,” Guidry said. “The county clerk’s office was self-sustaining by generating revenue of $4 million per fiscal year.”

The two-week period for early voting for the March 1 primaries begins Monday on Valentine’s Day.

History

In early February 2017, Branick shocked some in Southeast Texas when he announced he was switching parties and would run as a Republican in 2018.

He ran against former Congressman Nick Lampson, a Democrat with nearly a half of a century as an elected official and candidate.

Lampson lost by a 949-vote margin to Branick out of 73,960 votes in the 2018 General Election.

Lampson had a lot in his favor with his name recognition among voters as a former congressman and tax-assessor collector, and a large amount of donors. It was also the last election cycle in which voters could cast a straight-ticket ballot.

Straight-ticket voting historically favored Democrats; and in 2018, approximately two-thirds of Texas voters cast straight-ticket ballots.

But Jefferson County voters did not fall in line with that statistic.

After multiple unopposed Democratic races, Republicans garnered a victory with Mitch Templeton’s win for the 172nd District Judicial race, while Democrats secured County Clerk Carolyn Guidry by a 51-49 percent margin.

Guidry, whose office oversaw hundreds of elections in her 16 years in office, filed against Branick, having stepped down from her position citing personal reasons.