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Texas GOP continues statewide election sweep as Abbott, Patrick and Paxton win reelection

"Abbott" sign at the GOP watch party on Nov. 8, 2022. Patricia Lim/KUT
Patricia Lim
/
KUT
Gov. Greg Abbott beat challenger Beto O'Rourke to retain his seat for a third term.

Gov. Greg Abbott won his third term as Texas governor Tuesday night after besting El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

The contest marks the third consecutive defeat in four years for O’Rourke after the former congressman tried unsuccessfully to defeat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in 2018. That was followed by an ill-fated run for president in 2020.

Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also won their bids for reelection, adding to the Texas Republicans’ near-three-decade streak of controlling state government.

Patrick again defeated Mike Collier, an accountant who also tried to unseat him in 2018. Patrick was first elected to the post in 2014 after serving as a state senator from Houston.

And despite facing several legal challenges and investigations, voters chose to keep Paxton as the state’s chief prosecutor. Paxton has been at the helm of the office under a cloud of controversy since his 2015 indictment on securities fraud charges. Paxton was also subsequently accused by former employees of misusing his office to help donors. Nonetheless, he defeated challenger Rochelle Garza by a wide margin. Garza is a Brownsville native and attorney who made headlines after successfully suing the Trump administration while representing an immigrant teenager who sought access to an abortion.

As of 5 a.m. Wednesday, Paxton had secured roughly 54% of the vote with 88% of the polling locations reporting results, Houston Public Media reported.

The statewide sweep comes as the incumbents campaigned heavily on issues like border security and the economy. Abbott repeatedly tied O’Rourke to President Biden and said he embraced Biden’s so-called “open borders” policy. Abbott also touted the state’s economy and his support for an abortion bill that is considered one of the most restrictive pieces of legislation in the country.

Abbott’s victory also comes less than six months after a mass shooting at a Uvalde elementary school that claimed the lives of 19 children and two schoolteachers. The tragedy drew renewed attention to Texas gun laws after it was discovered the gunman legally purchased a semi-automatic weapon when he was 18 years old. But the issue took a back seat to the economy, immigration and public safety. Recent polls showed Abbott leading O’Rourke by double digits in some cases despite O’Rourke matching Abbott’s fundraising in the months leading up to Tuesday’s election.

“I ran this campaign for the Texans who want safer streets. For the homeowners burdened with skyrocketing property taxes. For the oil field workers who begged me to protect their livelihoods,” Abbott said during a post-election celebration in McAllen, according to a statement. “For parents who want to choose the school that’s best for their child. For the ranchers and residents who pleaded for a secure border.”

After his defeat, O’Rourke thanked his family and supporters during a watch party in El Paso. He said he wasn’t sure what would come next but added that he is “in this fight for life,” KTEP reported.

“We just want a state where people are free enough, and healthy enough, to be able to pursue their potential and rise to fulfill their true promise,” O’Rourke said. “A state where we’re not defined or divided based on our differences but find the common interest for the common good right here on the common ground before us. That is still the Texas I want to live in.”

Christian holds on to Railroad Commission seat

 Wayne Christian, the Chair of the Railroad Commission of Texas, declared victory in a speech at a Travis County GOP election party Tuesday night. 

 At the event he repeated campaign pledges to encourage more gas, nuclear and coal powered electricity generation in Texas and oppose federal action to address climate change included the Inflation Reduction Act.

"It's time really to go to the war,” he told the audience in his speech. "We need to take this state back, this nation back.”

 The incumbent Republican had faced off against first time candidate Luke Warford, a Democrat who vowed to strengthen the state’s natural gas supply chain in response to Texas' deadly 2021 blackout.

 During the race Christian stirred controversy for repeating his long-used campaign slogan urging voters to support “the only Christian on the ballot.”

His campaign told the Texas Tribune is would stop using the slogan after Warford, who is Jewish, referred to it it as “bigoted.”

But at the election night event on Tuesday, Christian said he would continue using the phrase in future campaigns.

 I've used it as somewhat of a joke for over 30 years in politics. And I'm proud to be a Christian by name and by faith, he told KUT.

Hegar wins third term as comptroller

 Incumbent Republican Glenn Hegar defeated his Democratic challenger Janet Dudding, winning Hegar his third term as comptroller.

Hegar told The Texas Newsroom recently that he’d like to move forward on some unfinished business — including guiding the state Legislature in crafting Texas' next budget in 2023. The state will likely have a surplus of over $27 billion.

 “A large portion of that is because the economy has grown in Texas, and substantially in the last 18 months,” Hegar said. “But a large portion of it, unfortunately, is because you and I, ordinary citizens, businesses, are paying more today for the same items than they were just a year ago.”

Hegar said the state Legislature could put some surplus funds toward reducing property taxes.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán and Mose Buchele contributed reporting to this story.

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Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at jaguilar@kera.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar

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