Cruz beats O’Rourke, Texas elects 2 Latinas to Congress

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — While Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s victory over Beto O’Rourke commanded most of the attention Tuesday in the Texas election, Democrats elected the state’s first two Latina congresswomen and flipping at least two GOP-controlled House seats.

Here’s what you need to know about the Texas ballot:


Democrats needed to pick up 23 seats to retake the House, and Texas was positioned to possibly help them get there.

Democrats took aim at three seats held by Republican incumbents whose districts when for Hillary Clinton in 2016. They got two when Colin Allred defeated House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions in Dallas and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher defeated John Culberson in Houston.

Republican Will Hurd of San Antonio was in a close battle to hold onto his swing district on the Mexico border. The Associated Press had previously called the race for Hurd but later determined it was too close to call.

Women looked to make gains in Texas, where men hold all but three of the states’ 36 seats in Congress. Fletcher snagged one of them, but longtime GOP incumbent John Carter held onto his typically safe district near Austin, defeating Democrat MJ Hegar, a combat veteran and pilot.


Republican Gov. Greg Abbott won another four years following one of the most uneventful Texas gubernatorial races in decades. Democrat Lupe Valdez, the former Dallas County sheriff, barely raised money and her campaign was nonexistent to many voters.

But Abbott’s real test comes after Election Day, when his power will be tested in a divided Republican-controlled Legislature that shrugged off many of his demands before going home.


Texas’ booming Hispanic population is on pace to outnumber white residents as soon as 2022.

Texas also elected a Latina to Congress for the first time. Two of them, in fact: Democrats Veronica Escobar of El Paso and Sylvia Garcia of Houston.

Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones was still alive in her bid to become Texas’ first Filipina-American and openly gay member of Congress. With all precincts reporting early Wednesday, Hurd led her by 689 votes out of more than 209,500 cast.


Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was re-elected despite spending nearly his entire term in office under indictment for securities fraud.

Democrat Justin Nelson staked his campaign on reminding voters that Paxton still faces trial over allegations that he duped investors in a startup before becoming Texas’ top law enforcement officer.

But Paxton, who has pleaded not guilty, has regained his footing within the GOP as his criminal case has languished in court for three years. Paxton’s wife, Angela Paxton, is also on the cusp of joining the state Senate in her first run for office.


Like other states in what has been a deeply divisive election year, Texas shattered early voting records in big cities for a midterm election. Fewer than 5 million voters in Texas cast ballots in the 2014 and 2010 midterms, but this cycle could be closer to a high-turnout presidential year.

O’Rourke needed to bring out historically unlikely voters to unseat Cruz, whose campaign had made little overtures outside his conservative base. It wasn’t enough as Cruz held on to win another six-year term.


For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: