With all of the precincts in TX-14 counted, it's striking to see just how tenaciously Ron Paul held on to his vote. In 2006, he won every county for 78 percent of the overall vote versus Cynthia Sinatra, who entered the race late and spent about $157,000. This year he won a bit more than 70 percent against Chris Peden, who entered the race in the summer, garnered endorsements from local Republicans, papers, and talk radio, and will probably spend around $200,000. Paul obliterated him, winning no less than 64 percent in any of the district's 10 counties. His vote share shrank in seven counties, increased in three, and stayed level in one.
Aransas County: 64.8 percent (down from 69.2 percent)
Brazoria County: 72.2 percent (down from 80.5 percent)
Calhoun County: 78.8 percent (down from 81.6 percent)
Chambers County: 76.6 percent (up from 74.3 percent)
Fort Bend County: 64.2 percent (down from 79.1 percent)
Galveston County: 65.8 percent (down from 75.9 percent)
Jackson County: 75.8 percent (up from 63.7 percent)
Matagorda County: 75.2 percent (up from 74.8 percent)
Victoria County: 74.7 percent (down from 81.4 percent)
Wharton County: 74.0 percent (basically unmoved from 74.1 percent)
Compare this to the defeat of Wayne Gilchrest in Maryland or the career-low win of Dennis Kucinich last night. Compare it even to Jean Schmidt's 57 percent of the vote in her Ohio primary in suburban Cincinnati, where she faces no ideological disputes with the GOP, only the perception that she's weak against Democrats. It's an open question whether Paul can serve his cause better by staying in Congress than running as a third party candidate this year. It's not an open question whether someone will defeat him. He's built a beachhead in Brazoria County, which casts 30 percent of the district's vote, and he was barely dented in Aransas County even after the local Republican Party swung its support to Peden. He's got this seat as long as he wants it.
UPDATE: The Galveston County Daily News, which endorsed Peden, writes up the election:
Peden, a certified public accountant who has served on Friendswood city council since 2005, criticized Paul during his campaign as an irrelevant voice in congress who didn't adequately represent interests of constituents.
Phone messages left on Peden's cell phone, at his campaign office and with his campaign manager were not returned.
It might be umbrage, it might just be a poorly run campaign. (For what it's worth, I called the national Paul campaign last night and never got the call returned.) Peden definitely knows he's blown his chances at the House seat; if Paul were to retire in 2010 the frontrunner to replace him would be someone like State Sen. Kyle Janek, not the guy who lost by 40 points to Paul at the moment of his greatest vulnerability.