Established Texas Democrats Fall In GOP Stampede

In Texas, two established Democrats lost their congressional seats to Republican challengers. One of them was Chet Edwards, who served his conservative central Texas district for 20 years and was defeated by Bill Flores, a Republican retired energy executive.

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In Texas, two established Democrats lost their congressional seats to Republican challengers. One of them was Chet Edwards, who served his conservative central Texas district for 20 years.

NPR's John Burnett reports from Austin.

JOHN BURNETT: Chet Edwards represented the most conservative district in the country held by a Democrat, and he had survived two decades of aggressive, well-funded challengers until last night. The new representative of the 17th Congressional District in Texas is Bill Flores, a Republican and a retired energy executive.

Flores put up campaign billboards showing Edwards standing next to President Obama, even though Edwards on the stump trumpeted his no vote on the health care overhaul and bragged about his NRA credentials.

The same thing happened to Democrat Ciro Rodriguez, who represents a vast district that stretches from San Antonio west to El Paso. He was defeated by Republican Francisco Canseco, a 61-year-old banker in his third run for Congress. Canseco energized the conservative suburbs of San Antonio and painted Rodriguez as a Pelosi tax and spend liberal.

(Soundbite of cheers)

BURNETT: The mood here at the Texas GOP victory party was exultant. It was held at a posh exotic wildlife ranch, where the Republican faithful sipped longneck beers while kudus and wildebeests wandered the grounds. Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Texas GOP, pointed out the fact that both victors in these bellwether races are of Hispanic descent.

Mr. STEVE MUNISTERI (Chairman, Texas Republican Party): It's huge for our party because we cannot hold Texas longterm unless we get an increasing percentage of the Hispanic community. And that's been a challenge for us.

BURNETT: For the time being in Texas, a D by a candidate's name mostly stands for defeat.

John Burnett, NPR News, Austin.

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