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.)
pointed out while it was asking citizens to respect McKinney in his office, everyone, at every opportunity, should fight Houston’s power grab. It also bemoaned rumors that large numbers of men were organizing in northern counties to “run-off every Mexican.” Such an action would be an economic disaster to the area, the Ranchero
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.
The Mexican American vote in Precinct 9 was the center point of the election contest in Victoria. O’Connor offered witness testimony that the turn out in Precinct 9 was not extraordinary. William L. Rogers testified that he had been a resident of Nueces County since 1846 and was familiar with the Mexican population. Rogers added,
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.
Nueces County Judge Henry Gilpin concurred that there were between 500 and 600 “legal Mexican voters” within the old boundaries of Nueces County. Gilpin claimed he spoke Spanish and had business and official relations with the Mexican population since 1830. He said there were several large ranchos in the area of Agua Poquita and that the area was quickly “settling up.” He was told by several Mexicans that the reason they voted in Precinct 9 was “because they feared they would be prevented from voting at some of the other precincts by a party opposed to permitting Mexicans to vote at all.”