Chet Edwards’ two-decade career in Congress has come to an end tonight.
The result wasn’t a huge surprise, though it is a tremendous loss of seniority for the Texas delegation. Tom DeLay’s redrawn 17th District finally ousted Edwards, though it took six years longer than the GOP had hoped.
What took down Edwards, ultimately, wasn’t the conservative 17th District that DeLay’s people manufactured. Edwards seemingly could have continued winning had this been a typical election. Rather, what sunk Edwards was the anti-incumbent, pro-Republican wave that’s sweeping the country tonight. This was a national election. And though Edwards tried to make the race about local issues, it was no use. Anecdotes abound of conservative-leaning voters who like Edwards and voted for him in the past who this year turned against him simply because they were angry with Obama and the nation’s direction. That proved too much to overcome—even for a campaigner as skilled as Edwards.
The night began poorly for Edwards. He was trailing 17 percent in early returns and was even behind in his home base of McLennan County. When initial returns from Brazos County—which, as I wrote earlier, is a key battleground in the district—showed Edwards trailing by a margin of two-to-one, the gig was up for the long-time Democratic incumbent. (The AP called the race about 30 minutes ago.)
Bill Flores becomes the 21st Republican in the 32-member Texas congressional delegations. And that number could grow later tonight, with Democrats Ciro Rodriguez and Solomon Ortiz in serious trouble. I’ll have more updates on those two races later tonight.