ELECTION WRAP-UP: Hurd retains small edge in CD-23 race

UPDATED at 11:01 a.m.

The race in Congressional District 23 came down to the last precinct — and election workers there misreported their vote tally, officials said.

That error gave Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones a 282-vote lead around 2:30 a.m. — causing the Associated Press to rescind its call that the race had gone to Republican Will Hurd.

But then it was discovered that a precinct in Medina County — the last in the district to report its numbers — had neglected to include Election Day votes in the tally they had sent in, according to Sam Taylor, communications director for the secretary of state.

The state quickly reached out to Medina, which corrected its error. The result gives Hurd a 689-vote edge.

“For about a 30-minute window … there was a point where Ortiz Jones had appeared to win by 282 votes,” Taylor said.

The Hurd campaign declared victory Wednesday morning after the late-night dramatics.

“With all precincts reporting, I’m proud to have won another tough re-election in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas,” Hurd said in a statement.

Gina Ortiz Jones’ campaign has not responded to requests for comment.

Taylor pointed out that there are still overseas military ballots and provisional ballots to be counted, but he didn’t say how many of them there are. The current results are unofficial, he said.

In addition, he said that Ortiz Jones “is will within the margin to request a recount.”

He said the secretary of state’s office has not received word that Ortiz Jones’ campaign has done that yet.

The district is one of the only perennial swing seats in Texas. Hurd won his previous two elections by just 1.33 percentage points in 2016 and 2.1 percentage points in 2014. As it stands now, this year’s race was decided by one-third of a percentage point.

More than 200,000 people voted in the race.

  • Dylan McGuinness, San Antonio Express-News

 

Original article below:

As of this morning, the Associated Press has withdrawn its call in the Texas congressional race pitting Republican Rep. Will Hurd against Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

The AP had initially called the race for Hurd but later determined the race is too close to call.

With all precincts reporting as of 3:30 EST a.m. on Wednesday, Hurd has a lead of 689 votes out of more than 209,500 cast. That margin is roughly three tenths of 1 percent.

Hurd claimed victory in a statement released on Wednesday morning. Ortiz Jones did not immediately return a request for comment.

“I’m proud to have won another tough re-election in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas,” Hurd said in his statement. “I’m proud to be the first person to hold this tough seat three elections in a row for more than two decades. I’m ready to get back to work for constituents.”

The close results after Tuesday’s election mean either candidate would be able to request a recount. For a recount, Texas law says the difference in votes between both candidates has to total less than 10 percent of the vote leader’s total support. In this case, the magic number is about 10,000 votes, making Hurd’s 689 vote lead eligible for a recount.

Hurd is a two-term incumbent and former CIA agent who has been one of President Donald Trump's harshest critics among fellow Republicans.

This would not be Hurd's first razor-thin victory: In 2016, he won reelection by about 3,000 votes.

Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer and Iraq War veteran, has tried to point out that most of Hurd's votes have fallen in line with Trump. If elected, she would be the first Filipina-American member of Congress and the first openly LGBTQ lawmaker in Congress from Texas.

Hurd easily took Crockett County with 903 votes. Ortiz Jones had 33 and Libertarian Ruben Corvalan had 22.

We will update this story as more information becomes available.

 

STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 53

State Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, easily won re-election against Democratic opponent Stephanie Lochte Ertel.

Murr had 52,813 votes (78.6 percent). Ertel had 14,407 (21.4 percent).

Murr carried Crockett County with 954 votes. Ertel had 277.

 

LOCAL RACES

      Crockett County will have two new commissioners in 2019.

      G.L. Bunger and Michael Medina Jr. won their races during Tuesday’s General Election.

      Bunger defeated Slate Williams with 236 votes to 99 to be the next County Commissioner of Precinct 2.

      “Thank you to the citizens of Crockett County, and most importantly Precinct 2, for all of your continued support. I look forward to working with the members of our local government and every citizen of the county to keep our town, and county, a great place to call home.”

      Medina defeated Rudy Martinez 145-113 in the Precinct 4 Commissioner’s race.

      Medina will replace current Precinct 4 Commissioner Eligio Martinez who lost in the Democratic Primary Runoff earlier this year.

      Bunger and Medina will take office in January 2019. 

      “I am very pleased with the overall voter turnout. It was great to see so many community members get involved. I’d like to congratulate Rudy Martinez on a great campaign and a tightly contested race. I’m thankful for all the support I had along this journey and for the voters putting their trust in me. I look forward to January and getting the opportunity to serve Crockett County and represent Precinct 4,” Medina said.

 

SCHOOL BOND           

  The Crockett County CCSD School Bond passed by a large margin with 773 voting for and 279 voting against.

      The bond will move funding from the district’s Qualified School Construction Bond loan from the maintenance and operation budget to the interest and sinking budget in order to pay off the loan faster, and not subject the loan payment to recapture under the Robin Hood plan.

      It will add $231,000 a year to the maintenance and operations budget, save taxpayers $446,511 in interest and there is no tax increase to the taxpayers of Crockett County, said Superintendent Raul Chavarria.

      “On behalf of the CCCCSD Board of Trustees, I want to thank the voters of Crockett County for making the smart choice in approving the bond. This is truly a win for our taxpayers and a huge benefit for the students of our school district,” Chavarria said.

 

OTHER RACES

For the 20th year running, Republicans swept every statewide election in Texas, soaring to victories in the governor’s mansion, the attorney general’s office and the U.S. Senate, the most closely-watched top-of-the-ticket contest. El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke lost a hard-fought, nationally-watched U.S. Senate race to incumbent Ted Cruz. Early Wednesday morning, the margin was just three points — a tighter race than Democrats have achieved in years. And several statewide Republican incumbents were elected by mere single digits.

Gov. Greg Abbott easily won a second term, winning some 56 percent of the state over Democratic Lupe Valdez.

Abbott took Crockett County with 920 votes. Valdez had 333 and Liberterian Mary Jay Tippetts had 14.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick won another term with a single-digit lead – about a third of his 19-point victory in 2014.

Patrick, a champion of “school choice” — programs that would give Texas families subsidies to send their kids to private schools — has drawn the ire of many education-minded voters, thousands of whom pledged to block-vote for his opponent, Democrat Mike Collier.

Patrick took Crockett County with 797 votes. Collier had 389 and Liberterian Kerry Douglas McKennon had 30.

Texas’ congressional delegation — the second-largest in the country after California — has ever-so slightly shifted its tilt toward the center.

Democrats picked up three seats, knocking off House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions and Houston-area U.S. Rep. John Culberson. That took the delegation from a lopsided 11–25 split favoring the Republicans to a tighter 13–23.
And in the Texas House, Democrats picked up a dozen seats, bringing the minority party to a level it hasn’t seen in a decade. And the minority party positioned itself to carry ever-so-slightly more influence in the upcoming race for speaker of the Texas House.

In the Texas Senate, Democrats knocked off two Republican incumbents, Konni Burton and Don Huffines, both from battleground North Texas. But a close race that ultimately favored state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, means Texas Republicans continue to hold the powerful 19-seat advantage that will allow them to bring bills up for a vote on the Senate floor without any Democratic support.

 

VOTER TURNOUT

      Locally, voter turnout surpassed the 2014 midterm results with 1,302 ballots cast out of 2,484 registered voters in Crockett County for a 52 percent turnout.

      Early voter turnout hit 800 on the last day.

      In 2014 877 total ballots were cast.

            “Very proud of Ozona for getting out, voting and making a difference,” said County and District Clerk Ninfa Preddy.

            Statewide, turnout surged to near-presidential election levels.

            In 2016, a presidential election year, nearly 9 million Texans showed up to the polls. Midterm years tend to have far lower turnout — in 2014, for example, just 4.6 million Texans voted.

This year, Texans bucked that trend. With some precincts still reporting early Wednesday morning, turnout had topped 8 million — historically high for a midterm election in Texas. By the end of early voting, turnout in the 30 Texas counties that house 78 percent of the state’s registered voters had already surpassed turnout from the 2012 presidential election.

  • Texas Tribune, El Paso Times and the San Antonio Express-News contributed to this article.
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