Longtime Rep. Reyes defeated in Texas Democratic primary

Longtime Rep. Silvestre Reyes lost his Democratic primary contest in Texas on Tuesday night.

Reyes was defeated by former El Paso City Councilman Beto O'Rourke 50 percent to 44 in the primary for Texas's 16th congressional district.

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"I feel great. We just ran a really great campaign," O'Rourke said to a local station shortly after the results were announced.

"We can get great things done in this community and we only have to believe in ourselves and hold ourselves accountable. And we especially have to work to make it happen, and when we do that, amazing things will come of it," he added.

President Obama had endorsed Reyes, an eight-term House member, in the contest, and former President Clinton had campaigned in the district for him.

Reyes, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and, before he was in Congress, a top Immigration and Naturalization Service agent, was a leading Democratic voice on border issues in Congress and a close ally of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

He attacked O'Rourke during the campaign for his longtime support of legalizing marijuana, accusing him of wanting to legalize all drugs. O'Rourke, who as El Paso city councilman had helped craft a resolution calling for rethinking the war on drugs that was approved by the entire council, cried foul.

Reyes was targeted by the Campaign for Primary Accountability, the anti-incumbent super-PAC, which spent nearly $361,000 opposing him and Rep. Ralph Hall (R) in Texas. Hall, however, survived his GOP primary challenge Tuesday night.

The Campaign for Primary Accountability congratulated O'Rourke on his win.

"Greater voter participation means greater accountability. Greater accountability means a better Congress," said group spokesman Curtis Ellis. "Rep. Reyes had all the benefits of incumbency. Beltway lobbyists showered money on their longtime friend while Washington party leaders with marquee names tried to lend him their stature. The voters exercised their franchise and chose Beto O’Rourke."

This is the third time the group has succeeded in knocking off an incumbent — it helped Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) defeat Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), and played a large role in defeating Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio). Its next top target: Longtime Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).

Last night, Reyes attributed his defeat to a super-PAC ad blitz and what he said was a "nasty, dirty campaign" run by his opponent, the El Paso Times reported.

The Texas lawmaker had criticized the super-PAC's tactics throughout the race, telling The Hill last week that "smearing and sliming good people works in the current political climate."

“They’re not afraid of putting misinformation out there, because there aren’t any consequences," Reyes had alleged.

O'Rourke has not held elected office above the El Paso City Council, according to reports, but is expected to win in November in the heavily Hispanic and Democratic district. His 50 percent tally helped him avoid a runoff against Reyes.

This story was updated at 8:21 a.m.