It might take the Hardy Boys to solve The Mystery of Montague County.
Here’s the set-up: Former Houston Mayor Bill White won Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary handily, with nearly 76 percent of the vote. In doing so, he won every county except one: Montague.
The overwhelmingly Anglo far north Texas county — it sits on the Oklahoma border — wasn’t won by the statewide second-place finisher, hair care magnate Farouk Shami, or even by the third-place finisher, Fort Worth educator Felix Alvarado. Montague was bagged by San Antonio physician Alma Aguado, and it wasn’t even close. Aguado ran away with it, raking in 255 votes (86.73%) to White’s 19 (1.7%).
“I don’t know,” says Montague County Democratic Chairman Lanhon Odom. “I was watching the returns come in, and it just baffled me.”
Of course, it’s entirely possible that Aguado’s candidacy resonated with the Montague County citizenry in a way it didn’t with the rest of the state. But in neighboring Cook County and Clay County, she only got 5 and 6 votes, respectively.
Montague County Clerk Glenda Henson, who verified the numbers, offered a possible explanation. “My guess — and this is just me — is that most people came in and just checked off the name at the top,” she says.
If the majority of the 294 voters who bothered to participate in Montague’s Democratic gubernatorial primary — as compared to the 3,484 that voted in the GOP governor's race — were so uninspired that they simply voted based on alphabetical convenience, it’s no wonder that Aguado came out on top. But there’s a problem with that theory. In the Land Commissioner race, Hector Uribe beat his alphabetical predecessor, Bill Burton, 198 votes to 47. Lite Guv candidate Ronnie Earle didn’t win his race against Linda Chavez-Thompson, but his 81 votes dwarf White’s take — and, further down that list, even Marc Katz got more votes than White.
“I can’t explain it,” Odom says. “I wish I could.”
In search of a satisfactory explanation, we’ve sent an e-mail to our "sister publication" up in Montague County, the Saint Jo Tribune. While we await a response, the first person to get back to us with the most plausible non-alphabetical explanation for Aguado's achievement wins a free Texas Tribune hat.