Polls leading up to an election are sometimes misleading, but the indications suggesting that voters were largely undecided in the crowded field of Democratic candidates to challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) proved to be true last Tuesday night.
In the weeks before the election, polls from NBC News/Marist and Univision/University of Houston showed MJ Hegar in the lead followed by Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez and State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) nearly tied for second place.
As the votes came in on Tuesday night, it was clear that Hegar would come out on top, though with still less than a quarter of the vote.
However, into the late hours of the evening, it was still unclear whether Tzintzún Ramirez or West would secure the second-place spot for the runoff.
“We do not expect that we will have a clear enough picture of results this evening to call it one way or the other. We will issue a statement in the morning as final results become more clear,” said West in a statement on Tuesday night.
But even in the morning on Wednesday, the votes were still being tallied by the Texas Secretary of State with no clearer picture of who would come out on top.
By the afternoon, the final precincts had all been counted by the state and put West ahead of Tzintzún Ramirez by a small margin.
According to the current unofficial results, West walked away with 14.52 percent versus Tzintzún Ramirez’s 13.2 percent, a 24,000-vote difference out of a total 1.85 million votes cast.
Hegar, who received 22.28 percent, said that the momentum of her campaign “is unparalleled in this race” and expressed confidence going into the next leg of the race.
“This runoff will be hard-fought,” said Hegar on Tuesday night, “but I’ve taken on tough fights my whole life.”
Instead of focusing her attention on her Democratic opponent, Hegar has her eyes set on Cornyn, telling him, “pack it up, buttercup, because the people of Texas are coming to take back our Senate seat.”
In a statement after finally being declared the second-place victor, West expressed gratitude for his supporters and said that many of his fellow candidates who lost would be the “future of the Texas Democratic Party.”
“I believe we are well-positioned to win the runoff,” said West. “The runoff is a brand new day.”
Going into the runoff election on May 26, Hegar and West will be competing over the 63.2 percent of Democratic voters who cast their ballot for another candidate. Of course, turnout will likely be much smaller without a presidential primary at the top of the ticket.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.