Election

After Contentious Midterm Election, Gov. Greg Abbott and Republicans Hang Onto Texas

Abbott focused much of his campaign on crime, inflation and migration.
Abbott focused much of his campaign on crime, inflation and migration. Jay Godwin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Texas Republicans walked away with a handy victory in Tuesday's midterm elections.

Across the country, the election was widely viewed as a referendum on President Joe Biden’s first two years in the Oval Office. In Texas, voters picked the state’s top officials, including the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, among others.

Despite competitive fundraising throughout the election season, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott defeated Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

“Tonight, Texans sent a very resounding message,” Abbott said in McAllen on Tuesday night. “They want to keep Texas a beacon of opportunity that we have provided over the past eight years.”

O’Rourke had centered much of his campaign on criticism of Abbott over the February 2021 power grid collapse, new restrictions on voting and mass shootings like the one that killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde in late May.

Still, Abbott took the election by more than 10 percentage points.

O’Rourke, who lost an effort to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 and a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, said after losing the gubernatorial race: “I don’t know what my role or yours will be going forward, but I’m in this fight for life.”

The state’s Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton, bested Democrat Rochelle Garza, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held onto office against opponent Mike Collier, despite a handful of Republicans endorsing the Democrat over Patrick.

Paxton secured some 56% of the vote, while Garza took around 42%, according to voting data.

Texas Republicans had poured hefty funds into winning the Rio Grande Valley, a region situated on the state’s border with Mexico. But most counties along the frontier went to O'Rourke, as of Wednesday morning.

The Texas GOP also retained control of the state Legislature, although a handful of races remained uncalled as of Wednesday morning.

Ahead of Election Day, Texans turned out for early voting in low numbers, with only around one-third of voters casting their ballots early. During the 2018 midterms, more than half of registered voters submitted early ballots.

In North Texas, the vote didn’t come without drama. The day before the election, Democratic candidate Joshua Murray accused Collin County Judge Chris Hill of slapping and shoving him, an incident now being investigated by law enforcement.

Hill won reelection.

In Tarrant County, the ultra-conservative Tim O’Hare, a controversial former mayor of Farmer’s Branch, bested longtime civil rights advocate and Democrat Deborah Peoples.

Dallas, however, remained largely Democratic. County Judge Clay Jenkins beat insurgent Republican contender Lauren Davis after a contentious race. Davis has yet to make a public statement.

Across the country, the race remained tight Wednesday morning. In Pennsylvania, John Fetterman beat the Donald Trump-endorsed Republican candidate, Mehmet Oz.

But races in Arizona and Nevada could still decide which party takes the U.S. Senate, and Republicans were headed toward a narrow lead in the House. 
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Patrick Strickland is the former news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's worked as a senior reporter at Al Jazeera English. His reporting has appeared in the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.

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