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.
Expect some whiplash this week, Austinites: with an expected high of 103 degrees, Monday is predicted to be the hottest day of the year, but a midweek cold front is on the way to bring that first glimpse of fall.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport could see its first 100-degree temperature this year on Monday as temperatures citywide are expected to exceed this year's record of 102 degrees.
The cold front arrives Tuesday afternoon to evening.#atx #atxwx #cbsaustinwx https://t.co/rQni6ug3y4 pic.twitter.com/PoFeHPYtnM
— Chikage Windler WX (@ChikageWeather) September 20, 2021
After a typical summery Tuesday with highs in the mid-90s, Wednesday will welcome the first signs of fall as a cold front drops lows into the 50s.
Expect more wind and a chance of rain come Tuesday with a 40% chance of scattered storms. The cold front, which should last through Friday, will bring drier, crisper air that could cause fire hazards on Wednesday.
Highs will be in the upper 80s and lows in the 50s and lower 60s for the front's final two mornings.
After near record heat today, a cold front arrives tomorrow! Hang in there South-Central Texas, we have almost made it. pic.twitter.com/yd9UbNo7hY
— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) September 20, 2021
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Around 75 dogs died in a fire Saturday night at Ponderosa Pet Resort in Georgetown, according to the Georgetown Fire Department, leaving dozens of owners to mourn the losses of their furry companions.
The fire department arrived on the scene less than five minutes after 911 calls started flooding in at 10:56 p.m. At their arrival, they found flames and clouds of smoke, according to GFD Chief John Sullivan.
Twenty-five firefighters were on the scene, hoping to save as many lives as possible, initially trying to open some ventilation and control the smoke, though they were unable to save any dogs. Sullivan said his heart goes out to the families of the victims of the fire.
"I've been doing this for 29 years and this is the first incident that I've had where we've lost so many pets," Sullivan said. "I hate to use that term because, to me, a pet is a lot more than a pet—it is the closest friend. I wish I could convey my internal emotions adequately. I just wish I could go back in time to make it better."
Families of the fallen pets, who are believed to have died from smoke inhalation, have created a memorial outside the pet resort's fence complete with flowers, photos, notes and beloved toys of their friends.
No people were discovered at the scene—Ponderosa's boarding policies state that the staff feels that pets sleep better at night when no employees are there, so the pets are left unattended at night.
The fire department is still working to discover what caused the fire. Despite fire and smoke damage to the inside, the outer metal exterior survived the blaze. Based on the type of construction and occupancy type, the building was not required to have a sprinkler system.
"Quite frankly, I view my personal pet as probably my closest confidant, friend and the one that doesn't judge, so my heart just breaks," Sullivan said.
The fire claimed the lives of dog duo Bunny and Clyde, leaving owners and newlywed couple Don and Pam Richard devastated and angry KXAN reports, saying they wouldn't have left the dogs had they known they would be left unattended at night.
The Richard family is planning to petition the city of Georgetown, making it so that animals in professional care are never left unattended again.
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."