Hi 66 / Lo 42
|Volume 68, Issue 52,
Wednesday, November 6, 2002
GOP comes out ahead in top Texas races
By Ray Hafner
Democratic hopes for a new face in Texas politics were wiped away Tuesday night after Republican Rick Perry handily won the governor's race and Democrat Ron Kirk narrowly missed his chance at the U.S. Senate. The tallying of votes dragged on late into the night, leaving many state and national races too close to call.
"It's going to be a long night" was the mantra coming from nearly every candidate headquarters and news outlet. Kirk joked that he was wearing pajamas under his suit.
After spending a record $59 million of his own money, Democrat Tony Sanchez failed to convince voters that he had the know-how necessary to go to the governor's office.
Voters cast their ballots at a polling location in the University Center World Affairs Lounge on Tuesday.
Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar
During his victory speech, Perry told supporters: "We must now shift our focus from the campaign that has just ended to the future that has just begun.
"This has been a competitive campaign," he said, drawing laughter from the audience. The race has been characterized almost entirely by mudslinging.
Soon after Perry's 10 p.m. announcement, Sanchez told his supporters, "I'm still going to give them hell until the last vote is counted." Only 14 percent of the precincts had reported at that time.
Republican State Attorney General John Cornyn announced his victory in the U.S. Senate race even before any political analysts had called the race.
"I accept with great humility the honor of following in the footsteps of Phil Gramm in the United States Senate," Cornyn said. Gramm retired from the Senate this year, leaving a hotly contested open seat.
Kirk conceded the election just before midnight, with about 40 percent of the precincts reporting, By press time, Cornyn had 56 percent of the vote and Kirk had 43 percent, with three-quarters of precincts reporting.
Also at press time, Republican David Dewhurst appeared to have trumped Democrat John Sharp in the race for lieutenant governor. With 76 percent of votes in, Dewhurst had 52 percent of the vote to Sharp's 46 percent.
In the District 25 U.S. House race, Democrat Chris Bell's lead over Republican Tom Reiser grew as the night progressed. With 96 percent of precincts reporting at press time, Bell's 55 percent of the vote gave his a sure victory over Reiser's 42 percent.
Texas Supreme Court Justice Greg Abbot appeared to have soundly won his race for Texas attorney general, with 57 percent of the vote at press time. His Democratic opponent, Kirk Watson, had only 41 percent.
A snafu in Fort Worth may delay final results for other statewide races. Voting systems there did not register voters who chose to vote straight ticket, so several thousand ballots will have to be recounted by hand.
Analysts had feared the weather would depress voter turnout, but those fears evaporated with the clouds Tuesday morning as the weather cleared, giving voters little excuse for not turning out.
National results for the election were heading strongly in favor of Republicans, with several key Senate races going for the GOP. Elizabeth Dole emerged on top in North Carolina in a race the Democrats had begun to feel they could win.
To retake the Senate, which was divided 49-49 with two independents who usually voted liberally, Republicans had to claim 21 of the 34 contested seats. President Bush has been stumping across the nation hoping to win Republican control of the Senate and retain control of the House.
Many analysts believe several races may not be decided for weeks. Louisiana's Senate Democratic incumbent will face a run-off Dec. 7 after not getting more than half the vote in a four-way race.
In Minnesota, there is a question over absentee ballots that were cast for Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash Oct. 25 and was replaced by former Vice President Walter Mondale.
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