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For more Bexar County and Texas runoff election results, click here.
On Wednesday, with all polling locations reporting, Tony Gonzales had a seven-vote lead over his opponent for the 23rd Congressional District Republican nomination in Texas – not counting late mail-in, military, and overseas ballots.
Former Navy cryptologist Gonzales trailed retired Air Force Lt. Col. Raul Reyes for most of Tuesday evening and into the early hours of Wednesday, but they flipped later Wednesday morning. According to the Texas secretary of state Wednesday, 12,346 people voted for Gonzales while 12,339 voted for Reyes.
The Bexar County Elections Department still must count mail-in ballots that it receives Wednesday, as long as those ballots were postmarked by Tuesday, Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said. Military and overseas ballots can be counted if the department receives them by Monday, so those results will not be available until next week.
District 23 covers a large swath of Texas, spanning from western San Antonio to just outside of El Paso. The seat is held by Rep. Will Hurd (R-Helotes), who declined to run for reelection.
Asserting momentum as election day arrived, Gonzales spokesman Matt Mackowiak said he believes the former master chief petty officer will secure the Republican nomination because Mackowiak figures mail-in ballots counted Wednesday would have been cast later in the voting period.
“There are some variables here, but our belief is our lead is gonna grow and that Tony will be the nominee,” Mackowiak said. “We’re obviously ahead right now. We feel good about where we are. But we know we have at least a week ahead of us.”
President Donald Trump, who endorsed Gonzales on July 3, four days after early voting began, appeared to agree with Mackowiak’s thinking about late-campaign momentum, according to a pool report.
“By the time I got involved, a lot of the early votes were already cast … and it was a big comeback. It was a big comeback,” Trump said, according to the report. He said both were “great candidates” but was confident that Gonzales could “easily win.”
A spokesman for Reyes, who counts U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) among his supporters, pointed the Rivard Report to a statement that Reyes posted on Facebook, encouraging his supporters to not give up.
“Friends, this race is far from over. … This race isn’t over until every legal vote is counted,” Reyes wrote.
Texas secretary of state spokesman Stephen Chang said the direction of the race would be clearer by early next week, after mail-in, military, and overseas ballots are counted.
“I have no way of knowing how many ballots can actually come in, but with seven votes, you have to assume that enough of them will come in where it could tip in either direction,” Chang said.
Republican and Democratic chairs of each county must complete their local canvasses by July 23. After that, the state party chairs then have until Aug. 1 to sign off on local canvasses and make election results official.
After votes are finalized, it’s up to one of the candidates to call for a recount. (An automatic recount is triggered in Texas only if a race ends in a tie.) Whoever calls for the recount pays a deposit, which is refundable if the outcome of the election is changed by the recount. Otherwise the costs of the recount are deduced from the deposit, Chang said.
Gonzales’ campaign has retained attorneys Chris Gober and J.D. Pauerstein to lead its “ballot integrity” team as votes are counted, Mackowiak said in a news release Wednesday.
Reyes spokesman Eric Bearse said Wednesday that the campaign was not yet prepared to discuss “legal assistance or strategy.”
“We are calling counties to find out how many uncounted provisional ballots there are, and to inquire about uncounted absentee and military ballots,” Bearse said in an email.
Though Mackowiak said he has seen other races decided with even smaller margins, the Texas 23rd Congressional District’s runoff unofficial results are the closest he’s seen “for a race of this size and importance.”
“It’s razor-thin, and it’s yet another reminder of how important each individual vote is and how important these campaigns are,” Mackowiak said.
The winner will face Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones in November.