With 93.3% of votes counted, Decision Desk HQ declared a victory for U.S. Sen. Job Cornyn, who was reelected to his fourth term after beating his Democratic challenger MJ Hegar by 10 percentage points.
During the campaign period, Cornyn ran on his record. On his website, he emphasized his role in passing legislation to address human trafficking and the high cost of prescription drugs.
The incumbent also criticized his opponent, painting her as a recipient of "dark money" from the super PACs such as Senate Majority, Future Forward and EMILY's List, and accusing her of conspiring with Kamala Harris, the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee, to "California-Our-Texas."
Hegar, a decorated combat veteran, Round Rock mom and self-described "badass," hasn't held public office. She narrowly won the Democratic nomination for the Texas Senate seat in a runoff election against state Sen. Royce West in July.
"I'm not a career politician, running for U.S. Senate was never my plan," Hegar said in a statement. "I am confident that the work we did will move our state forward for years to come."
Her campaign stressed her experience working as a program manager for Seton Healthcare Family, as well as her support for the Affordable Care Act, as proof of her ability to lead Texas out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession it has created.
This stands in sharp contrast to Cornyn, who has long opposed the ACA and recently voted to confirm President Trump's latest Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, whom many Democrats fear will further endanger the legislation.
Hegar also focused on Cornyn's low profile among voters. Although he acknowledged this dynamic, he maintained a five- to 10-point lead over Hegar in polls, according to a round-up compiled by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.
Despite Cornyn's lead in the polls, Democrats believed that the race was winnable for many reasons: high turnout among Democratic voters in the July runoff election, Trump's flagging approval rating and a flood of donations from around the country.
Turnout, of course, did break records. More than 9.7 million Texas voters cast their ballots early this election, compared to fewer than 9 million in the entire 2016 race.
Cornyn, who has been publicly supportive of the president, did appear to distance himself last month, when he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board that when he disagrees with Trump he does so privately.
A handful of other Republican senators facing closer-than-expected reelection races have done the same, according to multiple reports.
"The president has had, in strictly political terms, a not particular good year and is an erratic standard bearer," Jim Henson, a professor of government and director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, told Austonia in August. "So if you are a Republican candidate in Texas, and your fate is hitched to the president's, it's a very anxiety-ridden ride."
Opposition to the president was not great enough to hand Hegar a victory—or flip Texas.
Samantha Cotten, the regional communications director for the Republican National Committee, expected as much.
"Beto O'Rourke lost in 2018, MJ Hegar will lose in 2020," she said in a statement to Austonia in August. "Democrats' dream of turning Texas blue will be shattered once again and it is little wonder as to why considering Democrats are actively campaigning on destroying the Second Amendment, the energy industry, and our cities by defunding police."
This story was updated at 5:30 a.m. with the final percentage of votes counted, as well as how many percentage points Cornyn led the race by.
Austin seems to have passed its fourth COVID peak, but public health leaders are already monitoring a new omicron-related variant that was recently detected in Texas.
Just as quickly as it came, the omicron variant that shuttered schools, businesses and holiday gatherings is finally receding, Austin-Travis County Health Authority Desmar Walkes said Friday. According to a University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium projections, the variant's caseload peaked on Jan. 9 in the Austin-Round Rock area.
But Austin Public Health is already looking to the new variation of it, dubbed the BA. 2 omicron variant, as it spreads to 40 countries including the U.S. Similar to the original "BA.1" omicron strain, the new variety shares most of omicron's characteristics but has 20 key mutations from the original. Walkes said the variant has over 80 mutations and appears to be more transmissible than the original omicron strain, though vaccines appear to behave similarly in protecting residents from serious complications.
The variant has been found in dozens of countries and is surpassing case numbers for the BA.1 omicron strain in Denmark, though researchers have so far found no difference in hospitalizations between the two omicron variants. The World Health Organization classifies all omicron strains as "variants of concern" but hasn't specified between the two.
Chief epidemiologist Janet Pichette said that while BA.2 will act similarly to its parent variant, the strain's transmissibility could cause a new spike in the area.
"We're at a critical point right now," Pichette said. "This new variant has been identified in Texas with three cases in the Houston area, so odds are that it's circulating around us right now."
For now, Pichette said cases are on the "downhill slide," while ICU admissions are expected to peak in the first week of February. With a 100% household transmission rate so far, Walkes said it's more crucial than ever to vaccinate children over five and protect other vulnerable members of the community.
"This new variant spreads more quickly and because of that we're going to see an impact on the general population," Walkes said. "It's going to find the vulnerable, and in this case it's going to affect the unvaccinated and those who cannot get vaccinated."
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Whether you became a home chef when the pandemic began or have always enjoyed crafting delicious meals, it’s undeniable that no home is complete without a cozy kitchen.
Take a peek at these five gems on the market now.
In the South Austin Parten community, this castle-like four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom stunner puts you just minutes from Austin, Dripping Springs and other nearby communities. Stark white and black contrasting features give the interiors a clean look, while a large curving staircase serves as a centerpiece for the ground floor. The chef’s kitchen is spacious, facing the living room and multiple windows, and immediately draws the eye. Upstairs you’ll find a spa-style bathroom, game room with a wet bar and Hill Country Views.This listing is held by Adam Zell and Lexie Zell.
This hyper-modern, 3,300-square-foot Scandinavian-styled home is a paradise for natural light in Hyde Park. With four bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms spread across one story, the home rests on concrete columns to protect from extreme climate conditions. Inside, you’ll find crisp, clean trim in the open-plan kitchen with built-in luxury appliances and a walk-in pantry. Lofty 12-foot ceilings and gigantic windows set the tone, with a wet bar and second living room for entertaining. When you retire to the master bedroom, enjoy a warm bath in the soaking tub or enjoy the multi-output shower.
This listing is held by Austin Stowell.
In the heart of Westlake, this stacked three-story new build is a sprawling 4,483 square feet with five bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. The home is centrally located and full of natural light, especially on the open concept first floor, which includes the kitchen, casual dining space and living area. The third floor has a bedroom and loft, perfect for the at-home worker.
This listing is held by Jen Templeton and Cheryl Albanese.
This 3,539 square foot, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom Tarrytown townhouse is newly remodeled but still holds on to its vintage charm. Bright white cabinets, a green accented island and quartzite countertops in the kitchen give the space a cheery feeling. Entering on the second floor, you’ll have to walk downstairs to get to the bedrooms, which include ensuite baths and walk-in showers. The third level bonus room is the perfect place for an at-home office.This listing is held by Cindy Fowler.
Just outside Austin in the sleepy town of Wimberley, the Backbone Ridge Ranch is one of the city’s most “iconic and pristine” properties. On nearly 50 acres of land, the house takes you into nature without getting too far from nearby cities. With 4,369 square feet, six bedrooms and six-and-a-half bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows effortlessly light the entire space. You’ll feel like a celebrity chef while cooking in the kitchen, even more so entertaining from the outdoor kitchen and living space. The 33,000-gallon quarried limestone pool is perfect for those hot Hill Country summers!This listing is held by Nicole Kessler.
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