HOUSTON – Former federal prosecutor Michael McCaul (search) defeated mortgage banker Ben Streusand (search) Tuesday in a contentious and expensive runoff that should hand Texas' newly configured 10th congressional district to a Republican.
With almost 96 percent of the precincts counted, McCaul collected nearly 64 percent of the votes in a race where the two political rookies together spent about $5 million.
"It is my time to heal the wounds," McCaul said Tuesday night, declaring victory to about 100 supporters at an Austin hotel. "It is time now for the Republican Party to unify behind their nominee."
No Democrat ran in the district realigned last year by the GOP-controlled Legislature, meaning a Republican should succeed U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (search), a five-term incumbent who moved to the more Democrat-friendly 25th District, unless a Democrat wages a longshot write-in campaign for November.
District 10, which stretches from Houston to Austin, was among five Texas districts that went to runoff elections after the March primary. All the races involved Republicans, and the winners in the other four races will face Democrats in November.
The Streusand-McCaul race became one of the most expensive congressional contests in the nation this year, with millions of dollars going primarily for ads in the expensive Houston and Austin broadcast markets.
Streusand, 46, loaned his campaign about $3 million, more than double the amount loaned by McCaul, 42, an Austin lawyer who was once a deputy to former Texas Attorney General John Cornyn (search).
McCaul won the runoff after getting help from several high-ranking Texas Republicans. Former President George Bush hosted a fund-raiser for him last month and Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison endorsed him, breaking party protocol by supporting someone in a primary or runoff.
Streusand took 28 percent of the vote in March to McCaul's 24 percent when both failed to get a majority vote and advanced to the runoff.
Gov. Rick Perry showed up at McCaul's victory party and said Texas needed someone like McCaul in Washington.
"I don't look at it as how it is going to help Republicans," Perry said. "I look at it as how this is going to help the president as we go forward in the war against terror and we deal with the economy."
The campaign degenerated into attack ads in the final days. Both sides tried to establish credentials in their first runs for office. Both also touted their ties to Republicans and chastised the other for ties to Democrats, however slight.
"This has been a long, hard fight and a bitter campaign," McCaul said.
In other races, Arlene Wohlgemuth, a state representative from Burleson, defeated former Waco school board member Dot Snyder 54 percent to 46 percent in the District 17 runoff. Wohlgemuth now takes on seven-term Democrat incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards in a district that includes President George W. Bush's Crawford ranch.
"It is time that we send someone to Washington who is going to support our president rather than Ted Kennedy," Wohlgemuth told about 70 supporters when accepting victory Tuesday night.
In District 1 in East Texas, former appeals court judge Louie Gohmert and Longview attorney John Graves swapped the lead throughout the evening before Gohmert emerged with the GOP nomination by taking 57 percent of the vote. He'll oppose four-term incumbent Rep. Max Sandlin, D-Marshall, in November.
James "Jim" Hopson, a Seguin attorney and accountant, collected 65 percent of the vote with nearly all precincts counted to defeat Laredo real estate developer Francisco "Quico" Canseco in the San Antonio-to-the-border District 28. That race, however, has been overshadowed by the dispute over the Democratic primary.
Rep. Ciro Rodriguez was pronounced the winner March 10 by 126 votes. Henry Cuellar, an attorney and businessman, then took a 20-vote lead in a recount. Rodriguez has said he'll sue to challenge the vote counts in Zapata and Webb counties, which gave Cuellar the edge.
In the 15th District in the Rio Grande Valley, businessman and former Cuero Mayor Michael Thamm piled up an almost 2-1 margin with 87 percent of the precincts reporting to defeat trade specialist Alexander Hamilton. The district used to be a Democratic stronghold, but reapportionment made it more Republican with the addition of some counties in south Central Texas. Thamm will face four-term incumbent Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, in the fall.