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GOP candidate scores upset win in Texas state Senate runoff

GOP candidate scores upset win in Texas state Senate runoff
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A Republican candidate won an upset victory Tuesday night in the runoff for a Texas state Senate seat that had been held by Democrats for more than a decade.

Pete Flores (R), a conservative former leader of the state Parks and Wildlife Department’s law enforcement division, won a surprise victory over Democrat Pete GallegoPete Pena GallegoGOP candidate scores upset win in Texas state Senate runoff Koch group launches digital ads in tight Texas House race Iraq War vet wins Texas Dem runoff MORE.

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The runoff election was held following the resignation of the seat's previous holder, state Sen. Carlos Uresti (D), after Uresti was found guilty of charges related to defrauding investors in an oil services company and sentenced to prison.

Uresti previously defeated Flores in 2016 by double digits. Flores won in an eight-way special election encompassing both parties earlier this year, with Gallego trailing him by single digits.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) congratulated Flores on his victory in a statement. Republicans now control 21 of the state's 31 Senate seats.

“Pete’s strong law enforcement background will be invaluable to the Legislature as we work to combat human trafficking and provide greater protections for our peace officers,” Abbott said. “I look forward to working alongside him next session to build a brighter future for all Texans.” 

Texas has been looked at by Democrats as a potential target for the party ahead of November's midterm elections, with several Texas Republicans in diverse districts seen as vulnerable to Democratic challenges.

Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue White vote is 'fundamental problem' for Texas Dems, political analysts says Houston Chronicle endorses Beto O'Rourke in Texas Senate race MORE (D) has mounted a high-profile challenge against Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDemocrats slide in battle for Senate O'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE (R) for the state's Senate seat as Democrats attempt to retake both chambers of Congress in November. O'Rourke trailed Cruz by 9 points in a poll of likely voters released Tuesday.

Democrats need a net gain of 23 House seats and 2 U.S. Senate seats to retake both chambers in November.