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Election Night 2012

Obama wins the White House while Tea Party darling Ted Cruz takes Senate seat

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Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz wins Senate seat in Texas. Tedcruz.org
Austin Photo Set: Karen_obama_cruz_election_nov 2012_barack obama
Ted Cruz

Some new Texas blood, from both sides of the aisle, heads to a mostly status quo Congress, while the Texas House inches to the left after voters across the Lone Star State chose to send a handful of new Democrats to Austin.

President Obama returns to the White House with no help from Texas, which resoundingly supported GOP candidate Mitt Romney. 

On Capitol Hill, the Democrats maintained their hold on the Senate, while Congress still belongs to the GOP. 

West Texas Democrat Pete Gallego, a veteran of the Texas House, eked out a victory for U.S. Congress in a hard-fought race over incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco. Newly elected congressmen Julian Castro and Marc Veasey also won their contests in their open races. 

The new class on Capitol Hill also includes GOP Sen.-elect Ted Cruz, former Texas solicitor general and Tea Party favorite who trounced Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the presumed nominee, in a fiery primary that captured the collective imagination of conservatives across the country.

Although his victory over Dewhurst was a bit of a shocker, Tuesday night was less so, as Cruz handily beat Democratic opponent Paul Sadler, a former Texas House education chairman, by a vote of about 58 percent.

Across the state, voters in Texas delivered upsets, spent big money and fulfilled some predictions on an election night that was — as they all are — one for the books.

Municipal bonds
In Dallas, voters approved a $642 million bond package earmarked mainly for street improvements and park upgrades. 

Austin voters approved most of a $385 million bond package that includes a new medical school at University of Texas at Austin and new park improvements such as bike lanes. Although surveys showed Austin voters opining about the importance of affordable housing, they rejected a proposal for $78 million improvements for low-income housing. 

Houston voters approved nearly $1.9 billion in bonds for 38 school upgrades, 20 new high school campuses, three elementary schools and technical improvements. Another $425 million was approved for parks, fire stations and libraries — among other improvements — in Houston as well.

Texas Legislature
The Texas House moved slightly to the left, with Republicans maintaining a strong majority. But Democrats chipped away at the opposing party’s ability to fast-track legislation by picking up seven seats.

All 150 House members are up for reelection every two years, so that chamber tends to be a good bellwether for the mood of Texas voters.

Last session, Republicans held a supermajority in the Texas House, with 102 members to just 48 Democrats, the most conservative the House has been in 150 years. 

Two years ago, the voters sent a huge contingent of Tea Party candidates to Austin and blew the Democrats out of the water — just as they were within two seats of dominating the House. This time around, Democrats appear to have knocked down the Republican majority into the '90s.

The Texas Senate saw a raucous battle in North Texas between Rep. Mark Shelton, a Fort Worth Republican, and Democratic incumbent Sen. Wendy Davis, who was defending her redistricted seat and who earned fame (or infamy, depending on your perspective) for her stand against education cuts that forced a special session.  

Davis barely edged out Shelton with 51 percent of the vote — a difference of about 7,600 votes in a contest with more than 287,000 votes.

Race for the White House
Obama passed the magic number of electoral votes, at 274, around 10 pm, when the news agencies called Colorado in his favor. In Texas, voters supported Mitt Romney by a margin of nearly 2-to-1.

“This happened because of you. Thank you. Four more years,” Obama tweeted on his official Twitter account. To signal that it was his own tweet, the president signed it, “bo.”

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