The Latest: Texas sheriff beats Democrat to win House seat
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the general election in Texas (all times local):
A Texas sheriff who drew national attention in 2017 over threatening to prosecute a driver with an anti-Trump sticker on their truck has won a congressional seat in Houston.
Republican Troy Nehls’ victory Tuesday thwarted heavy spending by Democrats to flip the district that stretches south and west of Houston into booming suburbs, which is among the most racially and ethnically diverse in the nation.
Nehls defeated Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni, who also ran for the seat in 2018. Nehls is the sheriff of Fort Bend County. The current representative, Republican Pete Olson, was among six GOP congressmen in Texas who didn’t seek reelection.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas has defeated Democrat MJ Hegar in the closest reelection battle of his nearly 20 years in Washington.
His victory Tuesday night was crucial to Republicans’ hopes of preserving their imperiled Senate majority, although other GOP incumbents were facing even tougher reelection battles. Cornyn held an edge in polls and fundraising for most of the race but was still forced into mounting an unusually aggressive defense of his 18 years in the Senate.
It remains 26 years and counting since Democrats last won a statewide race in Texas.
President Donald Trump’s former White House physician is heading to Congress.
Republican Ronny Jackson on Tuesday won a House seat in West Texas, where he moved after leaving the White House in 2018. The solidly red district is currently held by Rep. Mac Thornberry, who’s one of six GOP congressmen in Texas retiring this year.
Jackson was a surprise pick by Trump to lead the Department of Veteran Affairs. But that nomination was derailed by allegations of drinking on he job and over-prescribing drugs, which he has denied.
Democrat MJ Hegar has conceded in her bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.
Hegar called Cornyn at 8:20 p.m. Tuesday to concede, Cornyn spokesman Travis Considine said. The Associated Press has not yet called the race.
Cornyn held an edge in polls and fundraising for most of the race but was still forced into mounting an unusually aggressive defense of his 18 years in the Senate.
Democrats poured millions of dollars behind Hegar, a former Air Force helicopter pilot who narrowly lost a U.S. House race two years ago. She accused Cornyn of delivering little for Texas over his long stint but didn’t generate the same enthusiasm of Democratic challengers in battleground Senate races elsewhere.
Polls have closed in the majority of Texas amid a surge in turnout for this year’s general election.
Polls closed at 7 p.m. CST on Tuesday for nearly all of Texas. The El Paso area, which is in the Mountain time zone, will close an hour later at 7 p.m. MST. Polling places in Hidalgo and Upshur counties will close an hour later than normal, at 8 p.m. CST, because of technical problems earlier in the day.
Unusually tight races are expected up and down the ballot this year. Democrats hope to take a majority in the state House of Representatives, while the presidential contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is widely viewed as a tossup.
Voters in Texas made their pick for president while holding negative views about the country’s direction.
That’s according to AP VoteCast, a survey of the American electorate from The Associated Press. The poll found the coronavirus pandemic was top of mind for voters, with almost two-fifths calling it the most important issue facing the nation.
Voters also considered the economy a major issue, with almost 3 in 10 saying it ranked at the top. About 1 in 10 named health care and the same number named racism.
The voter snapshot is based on preliminary results of a survey of about 4,500 voters and nonvoters in Texas. The survey was conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
Polls will remain open an hour later in two Texas counties because of technical issues that affected some polling places.
Polls will remain open until 8 p.m. Tuesday in Hidalgo County in South Texas after 10 polling locations experienced “laptop check-in issues” that delayed the check-in process for voters, according to county election officials.
In Upshur County, near East Texas, a district judge also extended election day voting hours until 8 p.m. due to a nearly 90-minute delay Tuesday morning. According to the order, the delay was “due to polling equipment technical issues.”
Voters in Texas know America’s biggest red state is more competitive than its been in years, and they cast their ballots with high stakes races in mind.
Houston resident Corbin Clark said Tuesday he cast his first ever vote in hopes that Texas will turn blue this year.
The 29-year-old forklift driver said he didn’t know why he hadn’t previously voted, but his first one went to Democrat Joe Biden.
“My momma got on my case,” Clark said with a laugh. “She told me I needed to go vote and use my voice.”
In Dallas, retired antiques dealer Cheryl North said she voted for President Donald Trump and every other Republican on the ballot. She said her biggest motivation to vote was “fear of my country becoming socialist.”
“They didn’t have a place on the ballot where you could vote straight Republican, but I just went through one at a time,” the 71-year-old said.
A record of almost 10 million Texans had already voted by Election Day, surpassing the number of ballots cast in the 2016 election.
NEW ORLEANS — A panel of federal appeals court judges has rejected an eleventh hour Republican effort to bar Election Day drive-thru voting in Houston.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans denied the request in a one-sentence ruling issued late Monday. The court hadn’t been asked to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes already cast at drive-thru sites in the area.
The request stemmed from a lawsuit brought by conservative Texas activists, who have railed against expanded voting access in Harris County, where a record 1.4 million early votes have already been cast. The county is the nation’s third-most populous and a crucial battleground in Texas, where President Donald Trump and Republicans are bracing for the closest election in America’s largest red state in decades on Tuesday.
Attorney Jared Woodfill, a former Harris County GOP Chairman representing those opposed to drive-thru voting centers, noted that county Clerk Chris Hollins has shut down all but one of the county’s 10 drive-thru locations for Election Day.
Woodfill said he expects to appeal the three-judge’s ruling to the full 5th Circuit.
Polls have opened for the final day of voting for the general election in Texas after the state saw record turnout during the early voting period.
Nearly 10 million Texans have already voted during the three weeks of early voting, surpassing the number of ballots cast in the 2016 election. Elections experts predicted the number of votes could surpass 12 million, which would amount to more than 70% turnout — a striking level for a state that was among the worst for turnout in 2016.
Democrats are hoping to seize the majority in the Texas House of Representatives for the first time in nearly 20 years. Polls also show former Vice President Joe Biden running close against President Donald Trump in Texas, which no Democratic presidential nominee has won since 1976.
Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.
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