President Donald Trump's choice to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, was in a too-close-to-call runoff Wednesday morning against a candidate endorsed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
The Trump-backed Tony Gonzales was ahead of Cruz's pick, Raul Reyes, by just seven votes out of 24,685 with all polling locations reporting, according to unofficial results. Gonzales declared victory Wednesday morning, but Reyes did not concede and said the race is "far from over."
"We will be working to protect the integrity of every legal vote until the canvas is complete over the next week," Gonzales said in a statement. "I am grateful to everyone who helped us in this incredible primary campaign, and I look forward to winning this race in November and always fighting for Texas District 23!"
On Wednesday afternoon, Gonzales' campaign announced it had hired two prominent election lawyers, Chris Gober of Austin and J.D. Pauerstein of San Antonio, to lead its legal team overseeing the final ballots.
Reyes wrote Wednesday morning on Facebook that Gonzales had a "tenuous" seven-vote lead and that there remained multiple kinds of ballots that could still be counted in the runoff, including mail ballots that were postmarked Tuesday but received Wednesday, overseas military ballots and provisional ballots.
"This race isn’t over until every legal vote is counted," Reyes said.
Trump himself weighed in on the uncertain outcome Wednesday afternoon, telling reporters in Washington, D.C., that Gonzales could have a "tremendous win." At the same time, Trump said there were "two very good candidates" in the runoff and that he got involved "really at the last moment," after many early votes were cast.
Trump endorsed Gonzales on July 3, the first Friday in the two-week early voting period.
"Reyes is a great candidate and so is Gonzales, but when I got involved a lot of the votes, early votes were cast, and it was a big comeback. It was a big comeback," Trump said, according to a White House pool report. "And so that's going to be a very interesting race."
Regardless of the final results, either candidate will likely be in a position to request a recount if he ends up on the losing end. Texas law allows the candidate with the fewer votes to ask for a recount if their margin is smaller than 10% of the votes received by the candidate with more votes.
Hurd's district is one of the Democrats' best pickup opportunities this fall nationwide. The party's nominee is Gina Ortiz Jones, who lost to Hurd by a razor-thin margin in 2018.
Gonzales, a former Navy cryptologist backed by Hurd and House leaders, nabbed Trump's endorsement earlier this month, just three days after Cruz endorsed Reyes. Cruz had lobbied Trump to stay out of the runoff.
Trump also starred in a robocall for Gonzales that went out Monday and held a tele-town hall with him on the eve of the runoff.
Trump endorsed another candidate in the Texas runoffs, Ronny Jackson, the former White House doctor running to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon. Jackson easily defeated his rival, Josh Winegarner, on Tuesday night.