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Statewide sweep: Texas GOP hasn’t lost since 1994

🕐 3 min read

WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republicans prevailed in all of Texas’ statewide elections on Tuesday, extending a longest-in-the-nation winning streak that dates back to 1994 and ensuring that while all of the state’s top offices will get new occupants, the politics won’t change that much. Some highlights from Election Day:

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TOP OF THE TICKET

Attorney General Greg Abbott will replace Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, giving the state its first new chief executive since George W. Bush left for the White House in December 2000. Perry is leaving state office for the first time since being elected to the House as a Democrat in 1988, but he may not leave the national stage since he’s mulling a 2016 presidential run.

Attorney general for 12 years, Abbott waited to succeed Perry and is popular with conservative, tea party activists and the mainstream GOP. His opponent, Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, became a national sensation last year with her 12-plus hour, abortion-rights filibuster in the Legislature. She struggled to carry that momentum into her campaign a multimillion-dollar Democratic get-out-the-vote effort organized by top staffers from President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

Working closely with Abbott will be Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick, a tea party-backed state senator from Houston, who ousted incumbent David Dewhurst in the Republican primary. Patrick campaigned relatively lightly for the general election but still topped San Antonio Democratic state Senate colleague Leticia Van de Putte. Patrick will now preside over the Legislature’s upper chamber and has promised to secure the Texas-Mexico border at all costs — a stance so hard-line that it’s drawn rebuke from some of his fellow Republicans.

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A NEW BUSH FOR TEXAS

Another George Bush is an election winner in Texas. George P. Bush, the son of potential 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush won the land commissioner’s office in a landslide. He became the first member of his famous political family to win his first election. George P. refuses to say it’s the first step toward higher political aspirations, even though the post had led to a loftier office for former occupants.

In other statewide races, fellow Republicans Ken Paxton (attorney general), Glenn Hegar (comptroller) and Sid Miller (agriculture commissioner) also beat little-known and underfunded Democrats.

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CORNYN CRUISES

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn easily fought off a longshot primary challenge from conservative renegade U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, then had little trouble against Democrat David Alameel. Winning his third term, Cornyn is the No. 2 Republican in the Senate and is set to become majority whip if the GOP retakes the chamber Tuesday. Some conservative activists say Cornyn is too moderate, but that didn’t hurt him against Alameel, a millionaire Dallas dentist and former donor to top Texas Republicans — including Cornyn.

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IN CONGRESS, JUST ONE COMPETITIVE RACE

Texas has 36 congressional seats, but the only one that actually appears competitive is the sprawling 23rd district stretching from San Antonio to El Paso. The seat has switched from Democrat to Republican in each of the last three elections. Incumbent Democrat Pete Gallego was trying to fend off Republican Will Hurd and early results made the race too close to call.

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MORE MONEY FOR ROADS

Voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment using half the funds flowing annually into Texas’ Rainy Day fund to improve roads and highways. The measure means up to $1.7 billion for transportation infrastructure the first year, though its value thereafter depends on future state oil and gas revenue. Transportation officials say a booming Texas population means that at least $4 billion in spending per year is actually needed just to maintain current traffic levels on jammed roads.

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VOTER ID

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month allowed enforcement of Texas’ strict voter ID law, meaning residents had to show one of seven approved kinds of photo identification when casting ballots. Opponents say the measure discriminates against poor, largely minority Texans and a lower court ruling likened it to a modern-day poll tax. Its effect on balloting wasn’t immediately clear. Early voting turnout was largely flat as compared with 2010, the last time Texas elected a governor, and overall ballot totals could be hampered by heavy rains in some of Texas’ most-populated areas.  

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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