Republican Bill Flores is the winner of the race for Texas' 17th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Flores, in his first run for political office, defeated ten-term incumbent Democrat Chet Edwards Tuesday night. When all the votes had been counted, Flores earned 62 percent of the vote to Edwards' 37 percent.
“I am honored and humbled by the trust that the voters have placed in me," Flores said in a statement. "We won this campaign because of the outstanding campaign team and army of volunteers that we built across all 12 counties. Ultimately, the voters sent a clear message that they want a new Congress that will help the economy recover, remove barriers to private sector job creation and immediately reduce wasteful deficit spending. Tonight, we will celebrate this hard won victory. Tomorrow we will begin restoring promise and prosperity for future generations of Americans."
A retired energy executive and Aggie who moved to Bryan just a few years ago, Flores pegged himself as a limited government conservative who would go to Washington to fight the policies of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama, both of whom he repeatedly connected Rep. Edwards to during his campaign.
Polls released by both campaigns and an independent poll conducted for The Hill newspaper showed Flores leading the race at the end of the summer and into fall. The Hill's poll was the last to come out, showing Flores up 12 points in mid-October.
Edwards was first elected to the House in 1990. As part of redistricting before the 2004 election, Edwards first had the chance to win representation of the Bryan/College Station area, which he did with a win over Republican Arlene Wohlgemuth. Van Taylor and Rob Curnock were also unsuccessful in coloring District 17 red in 2006 and 2008 respectively.
According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, TX-17 is the most conservative district in the country to be represented by a Democrat.
As a result, the Republican leadership targeted the district as one of its key races this year as the party looked to overtake the Democrats as the majority in the House. Most prominent projections showed the GOP easily regaining control.
The congressman voted against a pair of significant pieces of legislation pushed by Democrats, the healthcare reform bill and cap and trade. Flores repeatedly said Edwards got a pass from his party's leadership on healthcare because the votes were there to pass the bill, a charge Edwards vehemently denied. The challenger also claimed Edwards could have done more to fight or kill the bill if he truly was against it.
Flores also attacked Edwards on his "yay" vote on the economic stimulus. The Republican called it a massive waste of spending. Edwards said while it wasn't perfect, it did help keep the country's recession from turning into a depression. He told the Dallas Morning News earlier in the campaign that he was happy with his vote on that bill even though he said it could cost him the election.
Edwards conceded the election in a speech in Waco, where he asked voters to put differences aside and support Flores.
"My hope and prayer for our great nation is that our elected officials find a way to move beyond the bitter partisanship that is so harmful to our democracy and our country's future," Edwards said. "In our democracy, there is nothing wrong with an honest clash of ideas, but to solve America's greatest challenges, Democrats and Republicans must find ways to work together, with respect, for the good of our country."
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