AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Republican Greg Abbott has won the Texas governor’s race, Reuters/Ipsos projected on Tuesday, defeating Democrat Wendy Davis, a state senator who drew national attention last year when she filibustered a proposal to limit abortion rights.
Texas Republicans were also poised to sweep all statewide offices, extending years of futility for Democrats, who last won the Texas governor’s race in 1990 with Ann Richards.
Abbott, 56, the Texas attorney general, campaigned on tightening security along the border with Mexico and being a more effective manager of the state’s $1.4 trillion-a-year economy.
He will replace Republican Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in the state’s history, who is retiring and is considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
“As governor, I will do what the federal government has failed to do. I will secure our border and enforce the rule of law,” Abbott told supporters at a victory celebration.
With about half the precincts reporting on Tuesday night, he was leading Davis by about 19 percentage points.
Davis, 51, gained national attention last year when she donned pink running shoes and spoke for 10 hours in a filibuster against new abortion restrictions.
Davis, who went from a single mother in a trailer park to a Harvard Law School graduate, portrayed Abbott as part of a ‘good old boys’ network more interested in enriching one another than helping voters.
Despite their defeat, Democrats see a silver lining in shifting demographics that indicate they will stand a better chance in future Texas elections, potentially turning the Republican stronghold into a state where they can win top posts.
Hispanics, who tend to vote for Democrats, are poised to be the majority group in the state by 2030 under current trends.
But for the meantime, the state will be on a conservative track with two protégés of Tea Party favorite U.S. Senator Ted Cruz picked on Tuesday to win the powerful posts of lieutenant governor, which helps set the legislative agenda, and attorney general, which sets the legal agenda.
Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Amanda Becker and Julia Edwards in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney and Eric Walsh