November 4, 2020 623 PM
FAR WEST TEXAS — While the country still awaits a final vote count for the 2020 presidential election, local ballots in West Texas have now been tabulated, with state races indicating that little will change along party lines this year.
Across the region, candidates for Texas Senate districts 19 and 29, Texas House District 74 and U.S. Congressional District 23 battled it out, but ultimately, most seats will stay in the hands of the same party, defying a second “blue wave” of Democratic wins that some projected for November 2020.
Notably, Republicans were able to hold outgoing Congressman Will Hurd’s seat in the 23rd U.S. Congressional District, a swing seat that has flipped across parties in recent years. Newcomer Republican Tony Gonzales overcame Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, despite the name recognition she has in the area due to her race for the seat in 2018.
Jones was endorsed by Presidio Mayor John Ferguson and Marfa Mayor Manny Baeza, and in Presidio County she scored more votes, but Gonzales ran up his votes in other areas, locking down the R seat. Jones lost to Hurd by under 1,000 votes, but this time around, the Republicans were able to secure a much wider margin, locking down 147,469 votes to Jones’ 135,415, creating a comfortable 4.3% margin for Gonzales.
“We were outspent, but we weren’t out-worked,” said Gonzales after a victory announcement. He credited the win to hard work on the campaign trail, backed up by his campaign’s undertaking to make 500,000 phone calls, knock 27,000 doors and visit all 29 counties in the district twice in the past two months.
The scene played out differently in one West Texas state race, where Democrats were able to flip a state senate seat, sending freshman Republican State Senator Pete Flores packing. Flores took office after a special election in 2018, which came about following Democrat Carlos Uresti’s resignation due to fraud and bribery convictions.
The seat was a longtime stronghold for Democrats prior to Flores, and opponent Roland Gutierrez was able to score a 10,000 vote margin over Flores, despite the Democrat trailing behind Flores among Alpine voters. Gutierrez has previously served as a legislator in the state’s house of representatives and his Democratic victory this time around is larger than an isolated win for the party – even if other seats remain untouched, Gutierrez’ victory will break a supermajority in the Texas Senate, changing the way bills can be introduced.
Elsewhere – in the seat vacated by representative Poncho Nevárez after the Democrat was caught dropping cocaine in an airport – Eddie Morales Jr. was able to hold down the border’s Texas House District 74 for Democrats.
In the most definitive win of the night in West Texas, El Paso Democrat César Blanco handily defeated Republican business owner Bethany Hatch, nabbing 67% of the vote. Blanco is now moving out of the Texas House of Representatives and into the senate in District 29, a seat long-held by outgoing Democrat José Rodríguez.