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Edwards Wins Big in Bush Country

By: Lindsay Liepman
By: Lindsay Liepman

Across the country the races were tight, and here at home, it was almost a photo finish in the District 17 race.

But in the end, voters in a Republican-drawn district sided with the Democratic candidate.

On paper, Arlene Wohlgemuth had everything she needed to win District 17.

An 11th hour endorsement from President Bush, a re-drawn district map to favor a republican, and early vote totals that looked optimistic.

But when all the votes were counted it was Democrat Chet Edwards who prevailed by just more than 9,000 votes.

"This was a thrilling victory for us because of all the effort that was made to get the voice of Central Texans and the millions of dollars spent against us," says Edwards.

Of the dozen counties in the newly drawn District 17, Wohlgemuth won only four.

Edwards, on the other hand won the counties that mattered the most, the remaining eight.

As expected, McLennan was an easy win for Edwards with more 22,600 votes over Wohlgemuth.

Johnson County, Wohlgemuth's home county, was her only big win, beating Edwards by a margin of over 10,000 votes.

Possibly one of the most important counties to win was Brazos County. And Edwards won by 269 votes. Many political analysts say that may have decided the election.

"I think she didn't win in Brazos County because of her negativity. A lot of people I know received the push polling and gay-baiting mail outs and it probably turned off some people," says Political Professor Paul Kellstedt.

But Wohlgemuth was surprised she didn't carry Brazos County.

"Possibly Brazos County was the most surprising. I'm still trying to figure that one out," says Wohlgemuth.

Edwards is somewhat of a lone ranger. Winning in a predominately Republican district, and one of the few democratic candidates able to hang on to their seat.

Eleven Incumbent Democrats opposed by Republicans ran for the U.S. House, only six will return.


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