Late into Tuesday night Democratic votes from the western border counties secured a seat in Congress for state Rep. Pete Gallego.
Gallego, of Alpine, took down first-term Republican Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, of San Antonio, to represent the people of the 48,000-square-mile 23rd Congressional District.
In one of the few true swing district races, with Democratic and Republican support evenly split, Gallego won 51.7 percent of the vote to Canseco’s 44.2 percent, pulling away as the votes were counted after midnight.
The margin of victory was slightly higher than the five percentage points Canseco garnered to oust incumbent Democrat Ciro Rodriguez in 2010.
There were few obvious election night surprises in a state that remained from the top of the ticket to the bottom a Republican stronghold.
As expected, Texas voters gave Mitt Romney an easy victory over President Barack Obama, 57.2 percent to 41.4 percent, according to unofficial results compiled by the Secretary of State.
Romney’s percentage margin was higher than the 12 percentage point win for Sen. John McCain over Obama in 2008. Romney, however, received 4.5 million votes, only slightly higher than the 4.48 million McCain received.
And while Romney was failing to inspire his Republican base, Texas delivered 3.3 million votes to the president, down from 3.5 million votes four years ago.
In Harris, Dallas, Travis and Bexar counties vote totals for Obama and Romney were down compared to their counterparts in 2008. The margins favoring the Democrat for every county but Harris were virtually unchanged. Harris, which went slightly for Obama in 2008, split at exactly 49.35 percent for Romney and Obama.
All of the millions spent in District 23 did not mean a more motivated Republican Party. Canseco was thought to have an advantage as a native son of the city with the greatest number of precincts in the district.
But throughout the night the lead he built from Bexar County voters dribbled away as the count wended its way through 28 more counties and a Gallego majority in El Paso.
Canseco raised $2.5 million, spent $1.9 million of it through the middle of October and burned through roughly $3 million in outside political contributions that paid for a hard-hitting, negative advertising campaign.
Gallego spent nearly all of the $1.5 million his campaign raised and about the same amount as Canseco coming from national political groups.
The winner, who forged a reputation for working effectively in a Republican dominated House, disavowed the brutal politicking of the past several months in his victory statement last night.
“What you will get over the next two years is not a political person but someone who will reach across the aisle,” Gallego said, according to the San Antonio Express News.
Randy Weber, who had the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, will succeed him in representing the 14th District after beating former Congressman Nick Lampson in another race that early on was close.
Weber got 53.5 percent of the vote, Lampson 44.6 percent.
Gallego and Weber will be joined in the Texas congressional delegation by Steve Stockman, in one of the more improbable comebacks in Texas political history.
Stockman crushed Democrat Max Martin with 70.8 percent of the vote to represent District 36 in East Texas, one of four new Congressional districts created by the state’s population growth.
Stockman, a born-again drifter who fell into the conservative movement, was elected to Congress in 1994, part of a mid-term Republican backlash during the Clinton presidency.
After a single term, Stockman knocked around conservative politics, losing in a bid to join the Railroad Commission in 1998 and failing to get his name on the ballot to run for Congress in 2006.
When the Legislature completed its map of Congressional districts, Stockman had a voter base that matched his fundamental conservatism.
At the other end of the political spectrum, after vanquishing eight-term U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes in a mud-spattered Democratic primary, Beto O’Rourke, a former El Paso city council member, thumped Republican Barbara Carrasco in District 16.
In District 33, another new district, state Rep. Marc Veasey became the first African-American from Fort Worth elected to Congress.
Another state representative, Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, twin brother of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, won easily Tuesday night and replaces retiring U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez as the representative for District 20.
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.
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