Cook went from an almost 10,000 vote lead to a 244 vote loss. How?
I'm going to say his primary success was due to the Vero factor. She was whipping the party patrons to push voters to the polls. Cook enjoyed a good rapport with those guys. All the Vero push came with a Cook push.
In the runoff there was no Vero and no patrons being paid to push the ticket. Cook was going it alone. Cook should be mad he didn't have Vero support. Where was she when he needed her most?
Samaniego enjoyed an invigorated base with specific issues they like him to advocate for. Cook was more of the "I was mayor, I should also be county judge" type of guy. The anti-ballpark and anti-arena crowd liked Samaniego's clearly stated views on these issues. I think the word I'm searching for is "passion" - Samaniego's supporters were passionate. They showed up.
The problematic thing for Vero here is that she's missing a link in that vertically integrated political mafia they've worked so hard to build. The county judge actually has some cool powers other local electeds don't have. It would have been nice for Vero to have that one under her thumb.
I expect Samaniego to have a very bumpy road up to the point they recall him. He will find himself all of a sudden "under investigation by the Texas Rangers" about six months from now. Shortly after his personal and professional life will be beaten to a pulp on the front page of the El Paso Times.
Also - online the El Paso Times was so pissed about the outcome of the election they ran a story about a principal eating McDonalds food as big story of the day. They slid the election coverage down the side of the page. They are not happy.
Lots of fun ahead!