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Texas: Democrat Wins Tight Race in Bush Country

A seven-term Democratic congressman whose district includes President Bush's ranch won a close race Tuesday night, becoming the only one of the five Democrats targeted by last year's Republican redistricting effort to remain in office.

U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards beat Republican state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, 52 percent to 47 percent.

Edwards campaigned on his record of bipartisan leadership, while Wohlgemuth said she can best represent the Central Texas district because she is a conservative who supports Bush's agenda.

Edwards, of Waco, ran in District 17 after his old District 11 was dismantled in the GOP-led redrawing of Texas congressional districts last year. Only one-third of his old district is in the new one, but District 17 is only slightly more Republican.

During the campaign, Edwards, 52, stressed to voters his record on national defense, saying he helped defeat a proposal to cut 40,000 troops from the Army in 2001. He also vowed to keep fighting for veterans' issues, education funding and bringing jobs and better roads to the region.

Octaviano Estrada, 20, a Waco resident in the Air Force, said he voted for Edwards because of his various accomplishments and did not "see anything I liked about Wohlgemuth."

Wohlgemuth, 57, of Burleson, said her 10-year record in the Legislature showed her commitment to saving taxpayers' money.

But Edwards said Wohlgemuth made "mean-spirited and harmful" cuts when she authored last year's overhaul of the state's health and human services. Stricter eligibility requirements have caused more than 147,500 children to drop off the rolls of the Children's Health Insurance Program for youngsters whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Wohlgemuth repeatedly called Edwards an ultraliberal who supports abortion and adoption by gay couples while opposing faith-based initiatives and the president's tax cuts.

Several students at Waco's Baylor, the world's largest Baptist university, said they voted for Wohlgemuth after seeing ads slamming Edwards.

"She's totally pro-life, and I agree with everything she said," said Melissa Duffey, 19, a biochemistry major.