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Democrats pick up four Texas House seats

The latest election returns showed Democrats picking up four seats in the Texas House.

Ryan Babcock make repairs to the Texas House of Representatives board on Aug 3,2016

*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Texas Democrats notched small gains as the minority party in the 150-member Texas House Tuesday, ousting incumbent Republicans in four races, according to unofficial returns.

Preliminary results showed Republican incumbents Reps. John LujanRick Galindo and Gilbert Peña losing their re-election to Democratic challengers who had previously faced off against them in recent elections. Democrats Tomas Uresti, Philip Cortez and Mary Ann Perez won the three respective seats, knocking off half of the House's six Hispanic Republicans in their closely-watched rematches.

And incumbent Rep. Kenneth Sheets of Dallas fell to Democratic challenger Victoria Neave by fewer than 900 votes, marking the conclusion of the state’s most expensive House race.

Incumbent House Republicans elsewhere were able to fend off Democratic challengers in other tight races. Reps. Linda Koop of Dallas, Cindy Burkett of Sunnyvale, Rodney Anderson of Grand Prairie, Wayne Faircloth of Galveston, J.M. Lozano of Kingsville and Sarah Davis of West University Place in Houston each secured enough votes to return to the Legislature's lower chamber for the 2017 session.

See the latest results here.

Only about a dozen races in the Texas House were considered competitive this year, mostly in districts clustered in and around Houston, San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth. In the weeks leading up to Election Day, Democrats were banking on the prospect that a poor performance by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, higher voter turnout for a presidential election and the state's ongoing demographic shift can coalesce into a handful of victories for the underdog party.

While Democrats appeared likely to gain a handful of seats, it is unlikely to make much of a difference in the overall politics of the Texas Legislature's lower chamber.

For Republicans in close races, a central challenge of the campaign cycle was to walk the tightrope of running on a conservative political record without aligning too closely with Trump. Trump appeared to be leading Clinton overall late Tuesday, but the Republican presidential nominee secured only a 9-point lead in the Lone Star State, a smaller margin than top-of-the-ticket Republicans have historically enjoyed in Texas.

The Texas House currently has 99 Republicans, 50 Democrats and one independent. Democrats typically have seen their ranks shift up or down by about half a dozen every two years. After the 2012 election, Democrats sent 55 members to the Texas House. After the 2010 election, 49 Democrats were sworn in to the Legislature's lower chamber.

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Politics 2016 elections Texas House of Representatives