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Politics

Runoff Wrapup: The Force Is With MJ Hegar Over Royce West; Valenzuela, Sessions Win

M.J. Hegar, the former Air Force pilot from the Austin suburb of Round Rock, narrowly defeated Royce West, the Dallas state senator, in the Democratic runoff to face Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn this fall.

The Associated Press called the race shortly before midnight. Hegar held a 4-percentage-point lead, a narrower margin than in her primary matchup with West in March, but it held through the night Tuesday.

In the hardest-fought North Texas congressional race, Candace Valenzuela declared victory late Tuesday night with 60% of the vote. Valenzuela, a member of the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board, held a strong lead over Kim Olson all night long in the Democratic race for Texas' 24th District.

The winner will face former Irving mayor Beth Van Duyne, a Republican, in November.

A pair of brand-name Republicans also earned trips to the November congressional elections:

  • Former White House doctor Ronny Jackson easily won the GOP runoff in a Panhandle district.
  • And Pete Sessions -- who represented North Texas for more than two decades before a 2018 defeat to Democrat Colin Allred -- won the runoff in a Central Texas district that stretches from his hometown of Waco to College Station and into an edge of Travis County.

Here are the results for key statewide and North Texas races:

KEY RACES & BALLOT ITEMS

U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC RUNOFF

M.J. Hegar | Royce West

Hegar has been the frontrunner throughout Texas' Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate. She first launched her campaign by fighting for military combat roles for women. She won with 52% of the vote. Read more about Hegar from KUT’s Ashley Lopez. 

West has previously worked on police reform and criminal justice issues. Read more about West from KERA’s Bret Jaspers.

RAILROAD COMMISSIONER - DEMOCRATIC RUNOFF

Roberto R. “Beto” Alonzo | Chrysta Castaneda 

The Railroad Commission of Texas, which regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, might be one of the most powerful government agencies that people don’t know about.

Castañeda won with 62% of the vote, going away over Alonzo. She runs a Dallas-based law firm that specializes in energy litigation. Alonzo was a state representative from District 104 in Dallas County for over 25 years. Read more about the candidates from KUT's Mose Buchele.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 24 - DEMOCRATIC RUNOFF

Kim Olson | Candace Valenzuela

In the Democratic runoff for Texas' 24th Congressional District, Candace Valenzuela declared victory late Tuesday night over Kim Olson with 60% of the vote. 

Olson is a retired Air Force Colonel. Valenzuela is a member of the Carrollton-Farmers Branch district school board. Read more about the candidates from KERA’s Syeda Hasan. 

Valenzuela addressed supporters early Tuesday night after taking the lead early saying her campaign “has come a long way” despite some people doubting her.

U.S. HOUSE DISTRICTS 13 & 17 -- REPUBLICAN RUNOFFS

Ronny Jackson is former White House doctor to three presidents, and with a runoff victory Tuesday with almost 56% of the vote, he's the Republican nominee for U.S. House District 13.

President Trump tried to make Jackson the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, but he pulled out after several workplace scandals came to light. Now he looks to be headed to Congress. He beat agriculture lobbyist Josh Winegarner in a heavily Republican district.

Linda Veazey is a professor of political science at Midwestern State University. She said the president’s endorsement was a turning point:

"President Trump’s endorsement of the race, I think nationalized this race a bit more than we’re used to seeing here in Texas 13th." 

Another winner making a political comeback was Republican Pete Sessions. He moved to the conservative Waco area after losing his suburban Dallas seat two years ago. Sessions beat businesswoman Renee Swann with 54% of the vote, who had the backing of the outgoing Congressman there.

 
STATE HOUSE INCUMBENTS GO DOWN

A pair of veteran Republican state legislators suffered blowout losses to conservative challengers.

Dan Flynn, a powerful committee chair in the Texas House, has spent nearly two decades representing East Texas. He lost to Brian Slaton who led with 61% of the vote. After two earlier tries to unseat Flynn, Slaton finally made it to the general election. 

The story was the same for J.D. Sheffield, who served for three terms in a central Texas district that reaches from the Hill Country to Stephenville and Glen Rose. He was thumped by attorney Shelby Slawson who secured almost 62% of the vote.

FORT WORTH CRIME CONTROL & PREVENTION TAX

Fort Worth voters supported the half-cent sales tax that generates tens of millions of dollars for the Fort Worth Police Department. The tax had the approval of 64% of voters in Tarrant County early Wednesday.  

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said residents' votes for the Crime Control and Prevention District (CCPD) tax will continue funding for "critical community programs that reduce crime and foster positive community-police interactions."

In a statement, Price addressed public concerns about CCPD's Board of Directors.

"In the coming weeks, I will be calling on the City Council to engage in a conversation about the governance structure and CCPD spending," price said.

More Live Election Results

Voters At The Polls Tuesday

North Texans shared their experiences voting during the coronavirus pandemic throughout the day Tuesday.

Denise Christian, 53, casted her ballot in West Dallas. She wanted to vote to inspire the younger generation, starting with her daughter. 

“She’s very concerned with the things that are going on in the nation with the pandemic,” Christian said. “She’s very interested in making her voice heard. My parents have always instilled in me that it is important to vote so your voice can be heard and I’d like to pass that on to the younger generation.”

Christian said she felt safe voting. The voting location has hand sanitizer stations in every corner and requires voters to wear masks. 

Valerie Gray, 51, came out to her voting location in Dallas bright and early on Tuesday. She was concerned about COVID-19 and wanted to beat the crowd. 

“They do have hand sanitizers at every little station,” she said. “They even have your stylus pen but I came with my own pen because I didn't want to use theirs. And it was very easy to do.” 

Gray said the voting process went smoothly and she was able to socially distance while casting her ballot. 

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