A Disastrous Night for Congressional Democrats

Texas loses a combined 57 years of seniority


Dave Mann

Update (12:02 a.m.): The news keeps getting worse for Democrats. Ciro Rodriguez and Solomon Ortiz have now both lost their seats in Congress. Add those setbacks to Chet Edwards’ defeat earlier tonight, and Democrats have lost all three contested congressional races in Texas in 2010.

Rodriguez lost Bexar County (San Antonio) by 12,000 votes, and at this hour is trailing Republican Francisco Canseco by about 6 percentage points with nearly all precincts reporting. Meanwhile, Ortiz, who represented Corpus Christi in Congress for 28 years, lost to Republican Blake Farenthold by just 800 votes. 

It’s truly a disastrous night for congressional Democrats across the nation. The Texas delegation in Congress will now consist of 23 Republicans and just 9 Democrats. 

Posted Earlier:

Chet Edwards, Solomon Ortiz and Ciro Rodriguez have served in Congress a combined 57 years.

It appears that all three long-time Texas Democratic incumbents may lose their seats tonight.

Edwards—the Waco Democrat who survived so many GOP attempts to oust him—has already lost. He was defeated rather handily by Republican Bill Flores.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez and Ortiz—two seats national Democrats expected to hold—were locked in tight races late Tuesday night. Both were trailing their neophyte Republican challengers.

If all three lose, it would represent not only a tremendous defeat for Congressional Democrats, who’ve lost their House majority tonight, but also a huge loss of seniority for the Texas delegation.

Many observers expected an Edwards loss tonight. His district is about 65 percent Republican—one of the most conservative districts in the nation still represented by a Democrat. He had been written off many times before only to confound the pundits (and the GOP). He had consistently won reelection by pitching himself as a moderate and attracting crossover Republican voters and independents. This year, however, he faced his most daunting race. He found himself a 19-year incumbent Democrat dealing with an electorate in a surly, anti-incumbent and pro-Republican mood. That ultimately proved too much even for a campaign of Edwards’ considerable skill.

As of this writing, it was too soon to call the Ortiz and Rodriguez races, but each looked to be in trouble.

Ortiz was neck-and-neck with Republican Blake Farenthold. With more than 60 percent of precincts reporting, Farenthold was clinging to a 2-percent lead. Ortiz was counting on outstanding precincts in largely-Democratic Cameron County to put him over the top. But there were also still uncounted votes from largely-Republican San Patricio County that could win it for Farenthold.

In San Antonio, Rodriguez was trailing Republican Francisco Canseco by 6 percent (50 percent-44 percent) with a quarter of precincts reporting. It appears whichever candidate wins Bexar County—the district’s main population center— will capture a seat in Congress. Canseco is ahead in Bexar County, but some heavily Democratic precincts have yet to come in.

It’s already been a bad night for congressional Democrats in Texas and nationwide. And unless Ortiz and Rodriguez come from behind to win reelection, it could become a disastrous night.