Trump Takes Texas; Cornyn Returns To Senate: Here Are The Latest North Texas Election Results
Several statewide and local races were still too close to call early Wednesday morning.
Texas looked like a battleground this election season. Democrats were hoping for big gains in the state. But as Election Day 2020 wore on, it became clear that the state is more red than purple.
President Donald Trump won the state's 38 electoral votes.
It was the thinnest margin of any Republican competing for president in Texas in decades. Trump carried 52% of the vote and former Vice President Joe Biden had 46%. A Democratic presidential candidate has not won Texas since 1976.
In other races, Republican John Cornyn will return to the Senate. In North Texas, in the 32nd Congressional District, Democrat Colin Allred won reelection, defeating Republican Genevieve Collins. Republican Beth Van Duyne declared victory in the race for the 24th Congressional District, but the Associated Press has yet to call the race. The Tarrant County sheriff's race was also too close to call.
Here's what we know about key races and ballot initiatives in North Texas so far.
Texas State House Remains In Republican Control
Democrats had their sights set on winning control of the Texas House. It's been decades since Democrats have had a majority in a legislative chamber in Austin or won a statewide office. But gains in 2018 had them convinced that this could be their year.
For the most part, it wasn't.
But UT-Arlington political scientist Rebecca Deen says that's not surprising.
“The races where the Democrats weren't able to prevail – those were likely Republican or lean Republican districts,” she said. “So I think in many ways it's an issue of aspiration on the Democrats part versus what was actually realistic for what they could get.”
Deen said the narrow margins in a number of suburban districts where Democrats lost are signs that they're incrementally making inroads in a state where they’ve been out of power for a generation.
"Democrats gave it a really good try," said Mark Jones, a Rice University political science professor. "The difficulty is they’re still in a Republican state and a majority of the voters in many of these districts are still Republican-leaning."
Jones said some of those Republicans did vote for a Democrat: Joe Biden.
Ultimately, as returns came in, Democrats were at least a few seats short of turning the Texas House blue.
Jones said the outcome will have long-term implications, since next year is a redistricting year, when state lawmakers redraw district lines for seats in Congress and the state legislature.
If the House flipped and the legislative chambers were divided – and the redistricting process gridlocked – the courts could end up redrawing those lines. That won't be likely now if Republicans control both the Senate and the House.
"They’ll be able to draw tailor-made districts to maximize the number of Republicans who are elected," Jones said.
Cornyn Defeats Hegar, Wins Reelection To U.S. Senate Race
Texas' senior U.S. Senator, Republican John Cornyn, won a fourth term, defeating Democrat M.J. Hegar, a decorated Air Force veteran.
"Whatever hat we wear, we often find that despite our differences, we are united by our core values: faith, family and freedom," Cornyn said after Hegar conceded. "These are the tenets that have made Texas and our nation so successful. And they're what guide me as I work hard to serve 29 million Texans. I'm glad we had this fight. It's a fight for the soul of our nation, and our state."
Hegar issued a statement Tuesday night on the election's results.
"I’m not a career politician, running for U.S. Senate was never my plan," Hegar said in an email. "I’m just one of the millions of Texans who saw the world we’re giving our children and thought ‘hell no.’"
"Together, we stood up and got to work, building a powerful grassroots campaign from the ground up, shattering voter turnout records, and most importantly sending a message to a previously safe Senator that he answers to us. I am confident that the work we did will move our state forward for years to come."
I'm so proud and incredibly grateful for all of your support. Together, we've worked so hard, and overcome so much, shattering expectations along the way. We’ve built a powerful grassroots movement from the ground up, and I know our fight here in Texas is far from over.— MJ Hegar (@mjhegar) November 4, 2020
This was Cornyn's toughest reelection contest since first elected to the Senate in 2002. A conservative favoring business interests, Cornyn has voted with President Trump 95% of the time over the past few years, including a vote to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial.
Cornyn started the campaign with a large amount of money, although Hegar outraised him in the last full quarter. Advertising picked up in the last few weeks and the race went from 10th in TV ad spending among Senate races to fifth.
Despite Cornyn's long career holding statewide office, a recent University of Texas poll asking registered voters to rate Cornyn’s job performance said 22% either didn’t know or were neutral.
Hegar gained attention for suing the Department of Defense over its official policy barring women from serving in direct ground combat roles. In 2018, she lost a close race in a conservative congressional district north of Austin.
Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in Texas since 1988.
Dallas ISD's $3.7 Billion School Bond Package Partially Approved
Voters appeared to partially approve the Dallas ISD school bond package, which is the single largest bond proposal from a local entity in Texas history.
Voters approved only two of five ballot items that would issue $3.7 billion in 30-year bonds. They rejected the other three.
Ben Mackey is a Dallas school board member. He says those two proposals make up most of the total package, which are the more than $3 billion would improve existing structures and build new schools, while $270 million would add and improve technology, including more and updated internet service.
“The infrastructure needs for all or our school facilities, if that Prop A passes, we’ll be able to modernize all of the school facilities that were not touched in the 2015 bond,” Mackey said. “And the technology - given the pandemic and just how much we’ve had to rely on technology - this is another critical one.”
Early returns showed that Dallas ISD voters were rejecting the last three items, which would fund stadiums, swimming facilities, and arts needs.
Some people have raised concerns that issuing an unprecedented and giant bond package in a pandemic-created recession drops a heavy burden on voters. On the other hand, bond proponents argued interest rates will never be lower, while unemployed construction crews might welcome steady work after a COVID-19 shutdown.
No Clear Winner For Texas 24th Congressional District
The 24th Congressional District is a key North Texas battleground this election, but the Associated Press had not declared a winner as of Wednesday.
Still, Republican candidate Beth Van Duyne declared victory. Democratic candidate Candace Valenzuela had not conceded as of early Wednesday. In a statement released by her campaign, Valenzuela said, "Beth Van Duyne’s declaration of victory is premature and irresponsible. We have seen unprecedented turnout and thousands of votes are still being counted. Our campaign is committed to a full and complete count of all ballots so that every vote is counted and every voice is heard.“
With no incumbent on the ballot, Democrats saw an opportunity to try and flip this historically red district. Texas' 24th Congressional District spans smaller cities and northern suburbs across Dallas, Denton and Tarrant Counties. The race was left wide open after incumbent Republican Kenny Marchant announced he would not seek reelection.
Valenzuela is a former trustee on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board. She supports policies like a public health insurance option and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She earned endorsements from high-profile Democrats, including former President Barack Obama. If elected, Valenzuela would be the first Black Latina to serve in Congress.
As the first female mayor of Irving, Republican candidate Beth Van Duyne is a well-known conservative voice in North Texas politics. Van Duyne eventually left city government to work as regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She was appointed by President Donald Trump, who has endorsed her in this Congressional race. Van Duyne, who is white, says she's not running a campaign based on "identity politics."
Allred Wins Texas 32nd Congressional District
Democrat Colin Allred won reelection to the U.S. House. North Texas' 32nd Congressional District includes parts of Dallas, as well as University Park, Highland Park, Richardson, Garland and Wylie, among other suburbs.
“This is a victory for North Texas and everyone who believes that if we put our values first, and work hard to deliver results, anything is possible," Allred said in a statement.
"It will be a long and hard fight to beat this virus. But when Americans work together, we can overcome anything and do great things for this nation. The hard work starts now and we must begin the process of healing and rebuilding our institutions."
From 2003 to 2018, the congressional seat had been occupied by Pete Sessions. Two years ago, Allred defeated him. While demographics have changed, the seat remained competitive.
Republican Genevieve Collins had said Allred's too partisan and liberal for North Texas, hadn’t managed to pass any legislation, and takes credit for accomplishments of others.
He disagreed, pointing to Garland’s new VA hospital, support for the Dallas-Houston bullet train project, the updated trade agreement among the U.S., Canada and Mexico, passage of the CARES Act, and House passage of additional pandemic funding in the Heroes Act, which didn't go anywhere in the Senate.
Wright Wins Texas 6th Congressional District
Republican Congressman Ron Wright won the race for Texas’ 6th Congressional District.
Wright ran against Democrat Stephen Daniel, an Ellis County-based personal injury lawyer.
As an Arlington City Council member, chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, and having spent nearly a decade as Tarrant County’s tax assessor-collector, Wright built his political brand around fiscal conservativism. Wright wants to expand on the 2017 Trump administration tax cuts, continue cutting regulations on businesses and limit access to abortions. He's also a proponent of robust military spending.
Daniel, who practices law with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, wanted to increase the minimum wage, invest in broadband and infrastructure projects that’ll help address climate change. He said the Trump tax cuts should be rolled back for the very wealthy. His No. 1 campaign promise was lowering prescription drug prices and expanding access to health care.
The race was a lower-key affair than the other races in North Texas. Neither candidate campaigned in person. Wright is being treated for metastatic lung cancer, and was hospitalized earlier this year for pneumonia. Neither candidate bought television ads.
Waybourn Slightly Ahead, But No Clear Tarrant County Sheriff Winner
Early Wednesday morning, Republican incumbent Bill Waybourn had 53% of the vote for Tarrant County Sheriff.
Waybourn issued a statement declaring victory, but votes are still being counted. Forty voting centers had not yet reported results. Waybourn is seeking his second term in office.
Waybourn, who's running against Fort Worth police captain Vance Keyes, said in a Facebook post: "Thank you for allowing me to be your Sherriff for four more years."
Waybourn unseated longtime sheriff and fellow Republican Dee Anderson in 2016. According to his campaign website, his goal is to make the sheriff’s office “the line between good and evil” in the county, and he lists the creation of a human trafficking division among his major accomplishments.
Running the jail is the sheriff’s main job, and Waybourn has come under criticism for his jail immigration policy. In 2017, with the approval of the county, he signed the department up for a voluntary program that allows his deputies to flag Tarrant County Jail inmates for federal immigration detention — and possible deportation.
Waybourn argues the program keeps people who have committed violent crimes off the streets. However, studies have questioned the premise that 287(g) prevents crime.
Keyes says the 287(g) agreement has a chilling effect on immigrant communities, making people more afraid to call law enforcement. He plans to end the 287(g) agreement if he wins the election.
He also plans to increase transparency in the sheriff’s department by establishing a community oversight board. Keyes argues that Waybourn has not been transparent enough, especially in regards to the spike in deaths among jail inmates this year.
Other Texas Congressional Districts
Longtime Dallas Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson won re-election in the 30th Congressional District. She had more than 75% of the early vote. And Republican Michael Burgess won reelection in the 26th Congressional District, which includes parts of Denton and Tarrant counties. He had about 60% of the early vote. Republican Pat Fallon won election to Texas' 4th Congressional District. The district includes Rockwall County and several counties in Northeast Texas.
On Wednesday morning, Democratic challenger Joanna Cattanach conceded Texas' 108th Congressional District to Republican incumbent Morgan Meyer in a Twitter post. Cattanach had 48% of the votes while Meyer carried 49.7% with a 1,600-vote lead.
Key Statewide And North Texas Results
KERA's Bret Jaspers, Syeda Hasan, Miranda Suarez, Christopher Connelly, Bill Zeeble, Alejandra Martinez and Gabrielle Jones and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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