Gov. Sam Houston’s action in invalidating Duval County’s first election votes did not meet with universal approval. The State Gazette in Austin lambasted him, writing:
He preferred charges of illegal precincts and went behind the vote of the returning officer. The law provides that the proper tribunal for this type of case is the district court in the adjoining district. We learn, however, that Gov. Houston constituted himself a court to try the case and that the Governor and Ex Officio Judge heard with imperturbable gravity the counsel and then, with the severe impartiality for which he is noted, decided in favor of his old political friend Col. [John] McKinney. We shall not enter upon the merits of the case, but the fact is clear that the only tribunal the case is the adjoining district Court, as pointed out by the law. We believe Gov. Houston exercised an arbitrary and unwarrantable power. (Emphasis mine.)
McKinney took the bench but soon realized that there was a cloud hanging over his authority. He held court in Karnes County but the Ranchero reported in its October 27, 1860 edition that, “little was done due to the controversy surrounding his appointment.” In the same issue, the newspaper announced that O’Connor had filed an election contest in Victoria challenging Houston’s action.
I consider that there are about five hundred Mexican men within the old boundaries of Nueces County. The reason why the Mexican voters assembled at [John] Vale’s rancho to vote was because they were impressed with the belief – as I have heard many of them say – that they would not be permitted to vote at the Banquette where many of them had formerly voted.