HOUSTON – A candidate who stuck to his campaign despite photos showing him wearing dresses has lost his bid for office in Texas runoff elections that also picked GOP candidates for five congressional elections.
Sam Walls (search), 64, who sought a seat in the Texas House, had said he would not give in to "blackmail" from whoever circulated the photos, saying they tried to use "very old, personal information" to force him out of the race.
Walls, a businessman, had seemed the favorite over real estate broker Rob Orr (search), but GOP leaders urged him to withdraw after the pictures surfaced, and on Tuesday Orr won with 4,630 votes, or 60 percent, to Walls' 3,031.
"Some people have said they feel sorry for me, but let me tell you how wonderful it has been for me," Walls said after his loss. "If you have not had the opportunity to find out that all your friends are true friends, then I feel sorry for you."
He has said his family had "dealt with" the dress issue, and he apologized to supporters for any embarrassment caused by "a small part of my personal past."
In the Republican congressional runoffs, the 10th District contest was the most expensive congressional race in the country as political rookies Ben Streusand (search) and Michael McCaul (search) spent a total of $5 million.
McCaul won with help from several high-ranking Texas Republicans and former President George Bush, who hosted a fund-raiser. With 99 percent of the precincts counted, McCaul had 63 percent of the votes.
Since there is no Democratic contender in the Austin-to-Houston district, McCaul will take the seat unless a write-in candidate mounts a well-funded general election challenge.
In the District 17 congressional runoff, state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth (search) defeated former Waco school board member Dot Snyder, 54 percent to 46 percent, and will face seven-term Democrat incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards. The district includes President Bush's Crawford ranch.
The runoffs came in districts redrawn last year by the GOP-controlled Legislature in a contentious process that included two out-of-state walkouts by the Democrats. The new congressional map could give the Republicans control in November of the state's Washington delegation, now split 16-16.