Congressional Roundup: Gallego Closely Defeats Canseco

Pete Gallego makes his acceptance speech accompanied by his wife, Maria Elena and son, Nicolas, 8,  during the district 23 victory party at Don Pedro Mexican Restaurant in south San Antonio, Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
Pete Gallego makes his acceptance speech accompanied by his wife, Maria Elena and son, Nicolas, 8, during the district 23 victory party at Don Pedro Mexican Restaurant in south San Antonio, Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

In the state's closest — and most expensive — congressional race, Democratic challenger state Rep. Pete Gallego ousted incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco in Congressional District 23. He’s one of eight new faces in the 36-member Texas congressional delegation.

"As a kid who grew up in a small town of 6,000 people, having the opportunity to represent 700,000 people in Congress is truly unbelievable," Gallego said in a statement. "This campaign has already been a long journey, but now the real work begins. It's time to get to work so that all families can have a shot at the American dream, not just a privileged few."

Riding the Republican wave in 2010, Canseco turned the previously blue CD-23 red when he defeated Democratic incumbent Ciro Rodriguez. This time, outside political groups took an interest in the race — deemed a bellwether for Republicans trying to attract Hispanic voters — and funneled nearly $6.5 million into the district, according to the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation. Groups opposing Canseco spent the majority of that money, $4.2 million.

Canseco's campaign had not conceded late Tuesday. "Until all counties have properly and legally counted all ballots, this race is not over," said Scott Yeldell, Canseco's campaign manager.

The largest congressional district in Texas, CD-23 stretches from El Paso to San Antonio. Although Canseco had an advantage in San Antonio, his home turf, Gallego, who hails from Alpine, had greater support from El Paso and other western reaches of the sprawling district.

In CD-14, the seat long held by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, who decided not to run for re-election, remains in Republican control. State Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, pulled out a win over Democrat and former Congressman Nick Lampson in the closely watched race.

After calling Weber to concede, Lampson addressed his supporters and acknowledged that it had been a “tough campaign.” He kept the door open for future service, saying, “I have dedicated my life to public service, and I have always tried to be there for the people and communities that I represent. And while this may not be the end of the story, it is the end of a chapter.”

In addition to Gallego and Weber, there will be six other new faces in the Texas congressional delegation. Two Republicans, Roger Williams and Steve Stockman, and two Democrats, Marc Veasey and Filemon Vela, will fill four new seats. Former state Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, will take the seat vacated by retiring Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez in CD-20. And Democrat Beto O’Rourke will replace U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, whom he beat in the primary, in CD-16. 

While not a new face, longtime U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, will be representing a new district. He was moved from CD-25 to the newly created CD-35 after the state's political maps were redrawn in the redistricting process.

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