WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A reliably red area has changed to a much more purple hue after Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Democrats flipped two seats in the Texas House of Representatives that have long been held by Republicans in Williamson County.
John H. Bucy III will now represent Texas House District 136, which extends from north Austin to Leander in western Williamson County. He defeated the Republican incumbent, State Rep. Tony Dale, who’s been in office since 2012. Dale declined to comment Wednesday on the loss.
While he was confident in his campaign, Bucy told KXAN that the results still surprised him given the area’s history of strong support for Republicans.
“Williamson County was thought as one of the reddest strongholds in the state,” Bucy said, “but we knew just by being here, being among the people, looking at the data, that this was an area that was ready for a new type of leadership.”
The Democrats flipped another conservative stronghold in Williamson County — House District 52, which covers Round Rock and Taylor. James Talarico, a 29-year-old nonprofit director and former middle school teacher, won the seat vacated by Republican State Rep. Larry Gonzalez, who resigned in June.
Talarico defeated Cynthia Flores, who posted a message on Facebook Wednesday to her supporters.
“Thank you to my family and friends for your encouragement, support and prayers,” Flores wrote. “I now ask that you join me in supporting our new state rep, James Talarico, who needs our prayers and support as he begins this new mission.”
Democrats caused Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. John Carter to lose a bit of ground in Williamson County even though they pulled off narrow victories Tuesday in their respective races.
According to results released by the Williamson County Elections Department, Sen. Cruz got fewer votes in the county than his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
MJ Hegar, the Democrat who challenged Rep. Carter in the U.S. House District 31 race, also received more votes in Williamson County than the incumbent Congressman.
Carter released the following statement after winning a ninth term in Congress:
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to represent Texas’ 31st Congressional District for two more years. I could not have done this without the support and hard work of my family, campaign team and neighbors in Williamson and Bell Counties. Thank you for trusting me to travel 1,300 miles to fight on your behalf in Washington and I look forward to what we will accomplish next Congress.”
Emily Sydnor, an assistant professor of political science at Southwestern University in Georgetown, said she sees all these results as inspiration for any candidate now wanting to run in Williamson County.
“What we saw here was even if your candidate didn’t win, these races were much closer than many of the models and the polls predicted,” Sydnor said.
“People need to make sure that they don’t see a loss as the end of the road,” she added, “but instead a chance to re-group and come back just as strong in the future.”
Despite these gains made by Democrats in Williamson County, Republicans still won most of the county offices there Tuesday, including county judge, county clerk and county treasurer.