Democrat Dwayne Griffin took an early lead Tuesday night in the hotly contested primary race for county judge.

Election results trickled in as a crowd of more than 50 people braved the cold and gathered in front of the Somervell County Courthouse as voters have done for years. The chairpersons for each political party wrote the results on big white boards.

By 9 p.m. ballots in three precincts and early voting had been counted for the Democrats, while only one precinct and early voting results were available for Republican candidates. Final results were not available by press time.

With precincts 1, 2, 4 and early voting tabulations, Griffin, a county Justice of the Peace, led with 594 votes to incumbent Walter Maynard's 279. Democrat Pam Miller, who is Glen Rose mayor, trailed with 85 votes.

I'll just be glad to see more columns filled in, Griffin said as he watched the vote totals marked on the board.

The Democratic winner will face Republican Mike Ford, who currently is a county commissioner, in the November general election. Running unopposed in his party, Ford drew 122 votes from Precinct 2 and 258 from early ballots.

Maynard ran largely on his business management, budget experience and years of tax knowledge. Now was not the time for change, he said at a recent candidates forum.

Miller, who ran on her track record as a tax cutter and her fiscal responsibility, had stressed the need for change, as did Griffin, who currently serves as JP in Precinct 1.

The race was closely watched because it involved four elected officials, three of them vying to unseat the veteran Maynard, who has served as county judge for 12 years.

Ford has said that, if elected, he plans to bring a different brand of leadership to county government.

In the County Commissioner, Precinct 2, election, Republican John Curtis, who worked as a radiation manager at the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, was leading Terry Gosdin, a retired public school teacher and administrator, in early returns. Curtis won 94 votes in Precinct 2 and 79 votes in early ballots. Gosdin received 51 votes in Precinct 2 and 37 in early voting.

The winner will face Democrat Paul Harper, who was uncontested in his party. He operates the local food bank, is an engineer for software giant Microsoft Corp. and, with his wife, Debbie, runs the populist online new Web site salon.glenrose.net. Harper received 98 votes in Precinct 2 and 36 in early voting.

In the County Commissioner, Precinct 4 race, Pete Moore, owner of Glen Rose Auto Parks, was the only Democrat running. At press time he had received 106 votes in Precinct 4 and 60 in early ballots.

Moore will face incumbent James Barnard, who also was unopposed in his party's primary. Barnard, who worked at General Motors for more than 31 years before retiring, stressed his fiscal conservatism in a recent candidate forum. He received 55 early votes.

Incumbent Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Ronnie Webb ran as a Democrat and had no Republican opponent. He was appointed to the position by Maynard, but now he can say he's been elected. He received 152 votes in Precinct 1, 163 votes in Precinct 2 and 122 in early voting.

For Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, Scott May was leading Larry Mann with 108 votes in Precinct 4 and 141 in early voting. Mann received 57 votes in Precinct 4 and 45 in early voting.

Several Democrats ran unopposed. Re-elected to their positions were Candace Garrett, Somervell County district clerk, and Barbara Hudson, Somervell County treasurer. Marty McPherson was elected the local Democratic Party chair.

In the race for State Senator, District 22, Republican Darren Yancy, a Burleson insurance agent, was the sole contender for the seat after Republican incumbent Kip Averitt withdrew for health reasons. Yet Averitt was leading in early votes in Somervell County.

Another closely watched race was for State Representative, District 59, which pitted incumbent Republican Sid Miller against Gatesville physician J.D. Sheffield, a political novice who ran largely on a healthcare platform. Miller, who ran ads featuring his picture with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, was ahead in Somervell County with 297 votes to Sheffield's 137 in early voting.

Incumbent U.S. Representative Chet Edwards, D-Waco, had received 932 votes in the county, with three precincts and early voting tallied. Rob Curnock led the pack of five Republicans vying to unseat Edwards with 185 votes, more than double his closest challenger, Bill Flores.

In the governor's race, Bill White drew the most Democratic votes in the county, while incumbent Rick Perry had a wide lead, followed by Deborah Medina.