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Texas Election Roundup: A Big Night For Republicans

Bob Daemmrich
Texas Tribune
Greg Abbott celebrated his victory over Wendy Davis Tuesday night.

Republicans did well in Texas Tuesday night, sweeping all of the major statewide races. Here’s a roundup:

Abbott: As Texas goes, so does the nation, world

Governor-elect Greg Abbott says that as Texas goes, so goes the rest of the United States and the world.

Elected by wide margins Tuesday night over Democrat Wendy Davis, Abbott told his victory party in Austin that Texans had voted for "hope over fear."

He called his win a testament to a state where "a young man's life can literally be broken in half" and still recover - a reference to the accident that paralyzed him from the waist down.

He said he would work to make government "the servant of the people - not the other way around."

Speaking before Abbott were outgoing Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz and other elected officials who were part of another Republican sweep of top statewide offices.

A teary-eyed Davis has told her supporters that it's OK to be disappointed, but not discouraged, by her loss in the governor's race.

The Texas state senator lost Tuesday by a decisive margin to Abbott, part of Texas Republicans' sweep of top statewide offices.

Speaking in Fort Worth, Davis called on Democrats to keep fighting for their values and candidates. She thanked her supporters for never backing down.

Davis vaulted to national prominence thanks to her filibuster of a tough abortion restrictions law last year, and her campaign raised tens of millions of dollars statewide and nationally. But she was considered a heavy underdog to Abbott in a state that hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office in 20 years.

Perry says he wishes he could serve with fellow Republicans elected to statewide office.

Perry is leaving office after 14 years as Texas governor.

Speaking at Abbott's victory party in Austin, Perry called the latest Republican sweep of statewide offices a "little bittersweet." He touted his own accomplishments and said governors of other states were jealous of Texas.

Raising his voice, Perry called out that under Abbott, "things are going to get even better."

Perry did not run for a fourth full term. He's been traveling during his last months in office to key states as he considers a second run for the White House in 2016.

GOP's Patrick elected Texas lieutenant governor

Tea party-backed state Sen. Dan Patrick has been elected Texas lieutenant governor and will oversee the state Senate.

Patrick finished first in a bitter four-way Republican primary before crushing 11-year incumbent David Dewhurst in a runoff.

The Houston resident then bested Democratic state Senate colleague Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio on Tuesday. Better funded in deeply conservative Texas, Patrick was the general election's wire-to-wire front-runner.

A radio talk show host, Patrick also headed the Senate Education Committee. He's a fierce proponent of school vouchers and charter schools.

Patrick has taken a hard-line stance on immigration, promising to secure the Texas-Mexico border at the expense of popular, long-standing policies.

Often confrontational, Patrick has vowed to cut property taxes but would consider raising sales taxes slightly.

GOP's Ken Paxton elected Texas attorney general

Republican Ken Paxton has been elected Texas attorney general but could still take office under the cloud of a criminal investigation.

The state senator ran a shadow campaign after being fined $1,000 by state financial regulators in May for soliciting investment clients without registering. Prosecutors in Austin postponed a possible investigation into Paxton until after the election.

Aides to Paxton have called the matter settled and describe the violation as an administrative oversight.

The lingering issue never hurt Paxton's pursuit of a job that has become a powerful political stepping stone in Texas. Behind the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Paxton walloped his GOP primary challenger before this victory over little-known Democrat Sam Houston.

The last two attorneys general have been Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

GOP's Sid Miller elected agriculture commissioner

Republican Sid Miller has been elected agriculture commissioner following a quiet race for an office that has been a springboard for the politically ambitious.

Miller is a longtime Texas House member whose opponent was the most peculiar Democratic challenger on the statewide ticket. Farmer Jim Hogan refused to campaign or raise money and said he ran as a Democrat because the party gave him no primary competition.

The 59-year-old Miller won't exactly fit the mold of his predecessors when he takes office.

Gov. Rick Perry began his ascent as a state executive by becoming agriculture commissioner in 1991. He was followed by Susan Combs, who's now the outgoing comptroller, and Todd Staples.

Staples spent years using the office to build his profile but badly lost a run for lieutenant governor.

Republican Glenn Hegar elected Texas comptroller

Republican Glenn Hegar has been elected Texas comptroller, taking control of an office that has come under heightened scrutiny in recent years.

Hegar, a state senator and rice farmer, will replace Republican Susan Combs as the state's chief accountant. Combs didn't run for re-election and faced criticism for data breaches and off-the-mark revenue projections that impacted state spending.

Challenger Mike Collier was among a slate of little-known Democrats whose chances largely hinged on riding the momentum of Wendy Davis at the top of the ticket.

Hegar has served in the Legislature for a decade. He says his office will better forecast economic trends so that lawmakers can budget with greater accuracy.

George P. Bush elected Texas land commissioner

George P. Bush has been elected Texas land commissioner. That makes him the first in his family's political dynasty to win his first election.

The 38-year-old Fort Worth energy consultant easily topped former Democratic El Paso Mayor John Cook on Tuesday.

Bush is a fluent Spanish speaker who Texas Republicans hope can woo the state's booming Hispanic population. He is the grandson of one former president and nephew of another. His father is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who may run for the White House in 2016.

No other Bush, even the family patriarch and source of George P.'s middle name, long-serving Connecticut Sen. Prescott Bush, won his first election.

The Texas land commissioner administers publicly owned lands in a powerful but little-known post that could lead to loftier offices.

In other election news

Voters OK billions from Rainy Day Fund for roads

Voters have approved a ballot referendum taking billions of dollars from Texas' Rainy Day Fund for roads and transportation infrastructure projects.

Tuesday's passage of Proposition 1 creates a constitutional amendment that diverts half the funds that flow into state cash reserves and instead sends them to a highway fund.

Booming oil and gas industries have bolstered the Rainy Day Fund, now worth about $9 billion.

The amendment means up to $1.7 billion for roads the first year. Its value will fluctuate later depending on oil and gas revenues.

Transportation officials have suggested that because of the state's growing population at least $4 billion in annual spending will be required just to maintain current traffic levels on jammed Texas roads.

But supporters say the measure's a good start.

Cornyn tops Alameel to win third US Senate term

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has defeated little-known Democrat David Alameel to win his third term.

Cornyn's victory Tuesday was little surprise after he trounced tea-party challenger and U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman in March's Republican primary. Cornyn is the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.

Though Texas' senior senator has been criticized by some conservative activists for being too cozy with the Republican establishment, his name-recognition and fundraising prowess remain strong.

Cornyn's campaign also worked to woo Hispanic voters.

Alameel is a millionaire who founded a chain of successful dental clinics. As a former donor to top Texas Republicans, he struggled to gain traction with Democrats.