This article has been updated.
Republicans won two Texas Congressional races for districts national Democrats had targeted to flip.
As of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, with 69 percent of precincts reporting statewide, Republican Tony Gonzales had gained a solid lead over Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones. The two faced off for the 23rd Congressional District seat that was vacated by U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Helotes), who chose not to run for a third term.
Gonzales secured 128,019 votes, or 51 percent, compared to Jones’ 114,624 votes, or 46 percent, according to unofficial results reported by the Texas Secretary of State. Libertarian Beto Villela garnered 6,909 votes, or 3 percent.
Gonzales’ lead began with favorable early voting results, combined with preliminary Election Day results that led campaign manager Matt Mackowiak to declare victory via Twitter shortly before 11 p.m.
I’ve seen enough: @TonyGonzales4TX has won #tx23. Huge win. He outworked @GinaOrtizJones, who raised 75% of her money outside TX and didn’t hold an in-person event from March-mid-Oct. Tony was in 12 counties today alone.— Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) November 4, 2020
Tony will be a GOP rising star.#tx23
The Jones campaign responded in an emailed statement around 12:30 a.m.
“This race is far from over,” Jones campaign manager Lacey Morrison said. “With thousands of ballots yet to be counted, the Gonzales campaign’s attempt to declare victory is premature. The race in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District has always been close and we will continue to work to ensure every vote is counted and every voice is heard in this election.”
But Wednesday morning, Jones issued another statement, conceding the race and thanking her supporters.
“While we came up short, I will always remain dedicated to serving our country and my community in any way I can,” she stated. “I hope TX-23 is represented with all of her constituents in mind, and in a way in which she deserves.”
In another closely watched race, for the 21st Congressional district, Republican Rep. Chip Roy won reelection to a second term, defeating Democrat Wendy Davis.
Unofficial results showed Roy with 230,371 votes, or 52 percent, to Davis’s 202,079, or 45 percent. Libertarian Arthur DiBianca won 8,347 votes, or 2 percent, and Green Party candidate Tommy Wakely received 3,435, or 1 percent.
Neither campaign responded to requests for comment Tuesday night.
Both the CD-21 and CD-23 races have drawn nationwide attention from both parties for their swing district status this term. Multiple polls over the past six months have shown neck-and-neck races. However, the most recent poll in the CD-21 race, an Oct. 11-12 survey by WPA Intelligence of 412 likely voters, showed Roy pulling ahead by 5 percentage points.
The two districts have little in common in terms of geography or demographics.
CD-21 includes swaths of wealthy San Antonio suburbs of Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, and Terrell Hills and stretches along the northeastern side of Interstate 35, capturing pieces of South Austin. It also covers the heart of the Texas Hill Country between Johnson City and the Nueces River, including towns such as Fredericksburg, Blanco, and Bandera. Republican U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith represented the district for 32 years.
Roy, a former top staffer for Texas GOP officials, including Sen. Ted Cruz, cast himself as a champion of law enforcement and conservative values, while also campaigning on bipartisan legislation he passed to expand small business access to coronavirus relief funds.
Davis, a former state senator known best for her 13-hour filibuster of a bill in 2013 that restricted abortion rights, focused the race on her personal story. A former single teen mother who rose to prominence as a city councilwoman in Fort Worth, Davis made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2014 and lost to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
The CD-23 race, on the other hand, pitted two newcomers jockeying for a seat that has changed hands between parties three times in the past decade.
CD-23 is among the largest Congressional districts in the U.S. The majority Latino district stretches from San Antonio’s outskirts along the entire Texas-Mexico border from south of Eagle Pass almost to El Paso. In Bexar County, it includes much of the area surrounding San Antonio city limits on the north, south, and west sides.
Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer who lost to Hurd by fewer than 1,000 votes in 2018, launched her second bid for CD-23 in May 2019. She ran on expanding health care and educational access, as well as her military background.
Gonzales, a Navy veteran who formerly worked as a Capitol Hill military aid, also emphasized his personal background and a checklist of Republican policy platforms, including opposing abortion and supporting gun rights. Gonzales also touted the endorsements he’s received from multiple Texas law enforcement agencies.