Former El Paso City Rep. Beto O'Rourke has defeated Rep. Silvestre Reyes for the Democratic nomination in Texas's 16th Congressional District.
The Associated Press called the race around midnight local time. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, plus over 24,000 early votes, O'Rourke had 50.5 percent of the vote to about 44 percent for Reyes. Three other candidates divided the remainder.
Reyes, who is in his eighth term representing El Paso in Congress, was dogged by numerous ethical problems during the course of the primary. O'Rourke attacked Reyes for directing campaign and federal funds to companies that employed family members, and for misusing his office during the course of the primary campaign. Meanwhile, O'Rouke presented himself as a fresh face for the community, while Reyes attacked his challenger's character, touted his work for the district, and rallied the Democratic establishment to his side with endorsements from President Obama and Bill Clinton.
Reyes recognized that he had a serious challenge early on, and he had spent neary $1 million defending his seat by the pre-primary financial reporting period. But O'Rourke fundraised well for a primary challenger, raising over $400,000 in the same period, and he got almost another $240,000 worth of help from the anti-incumbent Campaign for Primary Accountability super PAC, which aired television and radio ads hitting Reyes.
Reyes is the third House member to lose a primary to a non-incumbent challenger this cycle. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, and Rep. Tim Holden, D-Pa., also lost in races contested by the Campaign for Primary Accountability, and three other representatives lost member-versus-member primaries forced by redistricting.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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