Updated: Tuesday, 02 Nov 2010, 4:23 AM CDT
Published : Tuesday, 02 Nov 2010, 4:10 AM CDT
AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) - Rick Perry never has lost an election. Neither has Bill White. That distinction ends Tuesday for one of them.
Texans are deciding whether Perry, a Republican and already the longest-serving governor in the state's history, should be brought back for a third four-year term or be replaced by White, a Democrat and the former mayor of Houston.
Their race tops a ballot where statewide offices are up for grabs along with all of Texas' 32 congressional seats, half of the Texas Senate, the entire Texas House, one-third of the Texas Supreme Court and portions of the state civil and criminal appeals courts and board of education.
Compared with the last midterm election in 2006, far more Texans took advantage of the two-week early voting that ended last Friday.
"I think this is a reflection of people's interest, their passion and their intent to be engaged in deciding which directions their country is going to go," said Perry, who first was elected to the Texas House in the mid 1980s, later won statewide office as agriculture commissioner and lieutenant governor and took over as governor when George W. Bush left for the White House in 2000.
Term-limited White wrapped up three two-year stints as Houston mayor and made brief noises about running for the U.S. Senate before shifting to the governor's race. He distanced himself from national Democrats, including President Barack Obama, yet was seen by Democrats as their best chance to occupy the governor's office since Ann Richards in 1994 got bounced by Bush in a GOP sweep that cemented Republican dominance in Texas.
"It's a horse race," White said. "You can sense that all over the state. We see momentum building all the time." Pre-election polls showed otherwise: White's yearlong attacks on Perry's record, ethics and workload failed to propel him past the incumbent. Perry railed against Washington, embraced tea party causes and touted Texas' economic gains during his tenure.
A couple of the state's congressional districts – both Democratic -- appear competitive.
In the Texas Legislature, 16 Senate seats were up. Republicans, who hold a 19-12 advantage, drew no Democratic opposition in half of Tuesday's Senate races.
All 150 Texas House seats were before voters although only about one-third of the incumbents had major party opposition. Democrats needed a net gain of three seats to seize control.
In Austin voters will decide on Proposition One. Austin voters will decide if the City of Austin can spend $90 million on mobility projects. Among the major hike and bike projects it would fund are 3rd Street Reconstruction in conjunction with the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, more than $14 million for a pedestrian boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake and pedestrian improvements near Waller Creek. When it comes to area roads - $4 million would go toward road improvements at the "Y" in Oak Hill. Another $2.3 million is in the plan for the I-35/E 51st Interchange.
Nationally, Democratic control of Congress is at stake as voters go to the polls across the country.
Midterm elections usually mean losses for the party in power. And with voters unhappy about the economy, Republicans appear poised to win more than the 39 seats they need to seize control of
Some analysts are predicting Republicans will win 50 Democratic seats in the House and possibly 60. More than 100 Democratic held seats are currently viewed as in play, including some that were thought to be safe until just recently.
To win the Senate, the GOP needs to pick up 10 seats and some analysts say that may be just out of reach.
One the GOP would really like to win is Nevada, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is fighting for his political life.
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