By CHRIS TOMLINSON | Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) - Texans will send four new representatives to Congress on Tuesday, the result of adding 4.3 million residents to the state between 2000 and 2010. Republicans will continue to dominate the Texas delegation in Washington.
Out of 36 seats, Republicans likely will keep at least 23. Republicans won 22 out of 32 seats in 2010, but Democrats hope to switch at least one seat from red to blue in their bid to diminish Republican control of the House of Representatives.
The only truly competitive congressional race pits incumbent Republican Quico Canseco against state Rep. Pete Gallego in the 23rd district, which sprawls along the border from San Antonio to nearly El Paso. Former Democratic Congressman Nick Lampson is in a tight race against state Sen. Randy Weber to replace the retiring Ron Paul. Democrat Rose Meza Harrison also launched a long-shot bid to oust incumbent U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold in Corpus Christi's 27th district.
All of those races were too close to call an hour after the polls closed.
Paul's retirement and the redrawing of the 14th district opened up an opportunity for Lampson, who had represented that area twice before. Debbie Studebaker, a 53-year-old homemaker from League City, said she voted the straight Republican ticket, but considered switching over to cast a ballot for the Democrat "just because of the novelty of Ron Paul being gone but I decided to vote straight ticket last week."
A U.S. federal court drew the maps for the congressional districts this election cycle after determining that the Legislature's maps unconstitutionally discriminated against minorities. Minorities made up about 89 percent of the population growth in Texas, and the judges wanted to make sure those voters had the chance to elect a candidate of their choice.
Out of the four new districts, two are minority-dominated, with one stretching across central Forth Worth and Dallas. The other is centered on Brownsville on the Mexican border. The judges also created a new district in Southeast Texas and substantially redrew a Central Texas district, both of which will easily elect a white Republican.
In the new 33rd district in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Democratic state Rep. Marc Veasey easily won the election, while in Brownsville, Democratic nominee Filemon Vela had a strong lead over Republican Jessica Puente Bradshaw in the 34th district. Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman is headed back to Congress to represent the Republican-dominated 36th district centered on Liberty County.
In Central Texas, veteran Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett found himself living outside of the redrawn 25th district. He decided to run in the new 35th district, which stretches along Interstate 35 from San Antonio to Austin. He posted an early lead in that race and Republican Roger Williams easily won the Republican-dominated 25th district, stretching from Austin to southern Tarrant County.
Other new faces expected to easily win election on Tuesday include Democrat Joaquin Castro, replacing retiring Rep. Charles Gonzalez in San Antonio, and Beto O'Rourke, who upset veteran Silvestre Reyes in the Democratic primary.
Republican incumbents who easily won re-election included Louie Gohmert, Ted Poe, Sam Johnson, Ralph Hall, Jeb Hensarling, Joe Barton, John Culberson, Kevin Brady, Michael McCaul, Mike Conway, Kay Granger, Mac Thornberry, Bill Flores, Randy Neugebauer, Lamar Smith, Peter Olson, Kenny Marchant, Michael Burgess, John Carter and Pete Sessions.
Democratic incumbents without a significant challenger include Al Green, Rugen Hinojosa, Sheila Jackson Lee, Henry Cuellar, Gene Green and Eddie Bernice Johnson.