After a brutal primary fight, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth secured a 13th term in Congress, cementing her status as one of the most powerful women on Capitol Hill.
Her challenger, former Colleyville City Council member Chris Putnam, led a relentless television and direct mail campaign against the incumbent, but he conceded the race late Tuesday night. Granger is likely to hold on to the seat in the general election.
With vote totals still coming in, Granger claimed victory over Putnam.
"You know, we can keep waiting, but it remains 60-40 so far, so I’ll stay here," Granger said Tuesday evening, talking about the Tarrant County results culled by her team. Asked if she was declaring victory, she said "yes."
Granger is the most senior Republican woman serving in the House, and she is the top-ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.
Her fellow Appropriations Committee member, Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo, fought off challenger Jessica Cisneros in their party's primary. Cuellar garnered 51.8% of the vote to Cisneros' 48.2%, with all voting locations reporting Wednesday morning.
The Cuellar victory is a setback for a massive coalition of Democratic allied groups, ranging from the Justice Democrats to EMILY's List to the League of Conservation Voters. Had she won the race, Cisneros, 26, would have been the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
His victory, along with that of Granger, will protect Texas' seniority on the House Appropriations Committee for another two years.
Congressional races in Texas have been getting more attention after the rash of retirements from some longtime incumbents. Six Texas Republicans announced their retirements last year, creating open-seat races to replace them and a sprawling field of hopefuls. Moreover, national Democrats and Republicans are targeting nine of the state's 36 U.S. House seats.
In Houston, veteran Wesley Hunt secured his party's nomination to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in Texas' 7th Congressional District. That he avoided a runoff was somewhat unexpected given how many opponents he faced — six in all. It will also allow him to focus on the November general election rather than a May runoff.
Republican Pierce Bush, who had considered running for the 7th Congressional District, was not so lucky. The grandson of the late president George H.W. Bush failed to make the cut in his bid for the Republican nomination in Texas' 22nd Congressional District. The top two vote-getters in that race, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls and technology consultant Kathaleen Wall, will face off in a May runoff election.
Elsewhere in Houston, Sima Ladjevardian will face Elisa Cardnell in a Democratic runoff to face freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw in the fall.
Former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne secured the Republican nomination in the Texas 24th Congressional District, which is an open-seat race to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant of Coppell. Democrats say they will target that race in the fall.
Lobbyist Josh Winegarner and former White House doctor Ronny Jackson are headed to a runoff for the Republican nomination in the Texas 13th Congressional District. Winegarner received the backing of the retiring incumbent, Rep. Mac Thornberry, in the 15-way primary.
Also in west Texas, Republican August Pfluger has captured his party's nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway in the 11th Congressional District. There will be no runoff, and this is a heavily Republican district. It is all but certain that Pfluger will serve in Congress.
Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions — who lost to Democrat Colin Allred in 2018 in his Dallas-based previous district — is headed to a Republican primary runoff in the Texas 17th Congressional District, though it is not yet clear who his opponent will be: either Waco businesswoman Renee Swann or aerospace engineer George Hindman. Retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Flores endorsed Swann as his successor in the Republican race.
Other primary races included nominating contests to take on incumbents including Allred and Republican U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul of Austin and John Carter of Round Rock.
The six-way Democratic primary for the 31st Congressional District, which Carter represents, is headed to a runoff between family practice doctor Christine Eady Mann and computer engineer Donna Imam.
Juan Pablo Garnham reported from Fort Worth.