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This story has been updated.
The battle to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Rep. Will Hurd’s seat appeared headed for a recount, with only a handful of votes separating Raul Reyes and Tony Gonzales Tuesday night in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District.
The hotly contested runoff pitted Gonzales, a former Navy cryptologist endorsed by President Donald Trump, and Reyes, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel backed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, for a place on the November ballot against Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones. Hurd (R-Helotes) is giving up his seat in the sprawling swing district, which stretches from San Antonio into far West Texas.
According to the Texas Secretary of State‘s unofficial results Wednesday morning, 12,346 people voted for Gonzales while 12,339 voted for Reyes, rendering the race too close to call and putting the votes well within the parameters for a recount.
Reyes held a narrow advantage most of Tuesday night, but that changed as Gonzales pulled ahead early Wednesday morning to take a seven-vote lead.
“With 100 percent reporting, the Secretary of State’s office is showing that we won the primary runoff by seven votes,” Gonzales said in a prepared statement. “We will be working to protect the integrity of every legal vote until the canvas is complete over the next week. 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!”
Both candidates received key endorsements in the final weeks of the runoff campaign. Cruz spoke to voters in a telephone town hall Monday night alongside Reyes, urging them to turn out and cast their ballots for him on election day. Cruz said he advised Trump to not endorse a candidate in the race when the president consulted him, but stopped short of criticizing the president for his endorsement choice.
“One of the problems in Washington is there are a lot of voices,” Cruz said.
Reyes also reaffirmed his staunch support for the president, though he said he thinks “somebody provided him the wrong tea leaves.”
“But nonetheless, we’ll still help out all the way because … he’s going to be the greatest president we’ve ever had,” Reyes said.
Meanwhile, his opponent also secured Hurd’s endorsement, along with Republican elected officials such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston), and former Energy Secretary and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Gonzales spokesman Matt Mackowiak said Tuesday night they had always anticipated a close race.
“Runoffs are different races,” Mackowiak said. “It’s all about turning people out. Given coronavirus, it made it even more challenging. We knew this was going to be very competitive and spent almost every dollar we could to make sure we won the primary runoff.”
In Texas’ 35th Congressional District, Republican Jenny Garcia Sharon appeared to be the winner Tuesday night with a six-point lead over opponent William Hayward with 90 percent of precincts reporting. The winner will go on to face incumbent U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett in November. Doggett has held the seat since 1995.
Hayward does not maintain a separate campaign website, instead using his Facebook page to reach out to voters; much of his messaging has been focused on his insistence against the use of face masks. Garcia Sharon highlighted issues such as immigration, education, and health care on her campaign website.
In Texas’ 20th Congressional District, former educator Gary Allen faced business owner Mauro Garza for the GOP nomination. Garza finished the night with a sizable lead, garnering with 60 percent of the vote. The winner faces incumbent Rep. Joaquin Castro, who is seeking his fifth term.
“I am proud to be the Republican nominee to represent Texas Congressional District 20 and send Joaquin Castro home,” Garza told supporters Tuesday at an election night event.
No other campaign has worked as hard as Garza’s, according to his director of marketing Graham Landry.
“We’ve knocked on over 35,000 doors since the beginning of this campaign, and we’ll knock on another 100,000 by November,” Landry said.
Allen has a relatively small campaigning footprint – his Facebook page has 19 “likes” and he does not maintain a separate campaign website.