By Joshua Benton
Republican businessman Jeb Hensarling defeated Democrat Ron Chapman in the contentious race to represent the 5th District in the U.S. House, and incumbents of both parties swept to easy victories across North Texas on Tuesday.
Mr. Hensarling topped Mr. Chapman, a retired judge, by a comfortable margin, with Green Party candidate Tom Kemper and Libertarian Dan Michalski trailing far behind.
The district was one of two Dallas-area races not featuring an incumbent, and it was considered the region’s most competitive contest. In the other race, obstetrician Michael Burgess easily won the seat being vacated by Rep. Dick Armey.
The 5th District stretches across 11 counties, from southern Dallas County south to Athens and points beyond.
Mr. Hensarling said his victory reflects the region’s backing of President Bush.
“This district is conservative and I’m a conservative,” he said. “They knew that I’m a guy who wakes every morning to see what I can do to help the president.”
Mr. Chapman, a visiting state district judge, says he has no plans to run for office again.
“I think I’m just going to leave that to young guys like Ron Kirk,” he said.
Plano Republican Sam Johnson, who has represented the district since winning a special election in 1991, easily retained his seat, defeating Democrat Manny Molera and Libertarian John Davis. The district covers parts of Collin and northeastern Dallas counties.
Ralph Hall, a 79-year-old Democrat, easily turned back two challengers, Longview Republican John Graves and Plano Libertarian Barbara Robinson.
Mr. Hall said before the election that if voters returned him to Washington, this would probably be his final term. The district includes Sherman, Rockwall, Tyler, Longview and Kilgore. Mr. Hall said he was surprised by the margin of victory because work on Capitol Hill kept him from campaigning.
Incumbent Republican Joe Barton won another term, defeating Democrat Felix Alvarado, Libertarian Frank Brady and the Green Party’s B.J. Armstrong.
Mr. Barton has represented the district, which includes southeastern Tarrant County and all of Johnson, Ellis, Hill and Navarro counties, since 1985.
Former Fort Worth Mayor Kay Granger handily won re-election to her fourth congressional term. She defeated political newcomer Edward Hanson of Euless, a former Republican turned Libertarian.
“I’m thrilled,” said Ms. Granger, who was in Austin on Tuesday night. “I was surprised to have essentially one opponent. It gave me some time to campaign for some other candidates to make sure the House has some good people in it.”
Ms. Granger said that in her fourth term she would continue to focus on national security matters. Her district includes defense contractor Lockheed Martin, maker of the new Joint Strike Fighter. 24th District
Democrat Martin Frost won his 13th term, defeating Republican Mike Rivera Ortega and Libertarian Ken Ashby.
“I feel very good,” Mr. Frost said. “I’m very pleased with the margin. I ran a positive campaign, and I think people respond to that.”
Mr. Frost, chairman of the Democratic caucus, was closely monitoring the battle for control of the House on Tuesday evening. If the Democrats take control of the House, Mr. Frost would become House majority leader, with Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri moving up to speaker. If the Republicans maintain control of the House and Mr. Gephardt leaves Congress to run for president, Mr. Frost would be a candidate for minority leader.
Dr. Burgess, a Highland Village obstetrician, defeated Democrat Paul LeBon for the seat of the retiring Mr. Armey.
Mr. Armey, R-Flower Mound, announced his retirement barely three weeks before the election’s filing deadline. His son, former County Judge Scott Armey, ran for the Republican nomination but was defeated by Dr. Burgess in a runoff.
Dr. Burgess did not want to jump the gun and declare victory before most of the vote was in. “This is my first general election,” he said. “Let me savor it.”
Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Dallas Democrat, retained control of the historically Democratic district, defeating Republican Ron Bush and Libertarian Lance Flores.
Ms. Johnson enjoyed national exposure during her last term as chairwoman of the Black Congressional Caucus. She has represented the district since 1992.
Pete Sessions was elected to his fourth term in Congress, but his first in the newly drawn 32nd District. Mr. Sessions defeated Democrat Pauline Dixon.
The district includes East Dallas, North Dallas and northwest Dallas, the Park Cities and some northern suburbs within Dallas County. Mr. Sessions had served three terms representing the sprawling 5th District, but chose to run in the new district because it was more convenient to traverse. He lives just outside the district borders.
Before Tuesday’s elections, the Dallas-Fort Worth area was represented by five Republicans and three Democrats. With Mr. Hensarling’s victory in the 5th District, those totals change to six Republicans and three Democrats.
Across Texas, only two incumbents appeared to be at risk of losing office. Waco Democrat Chet Edwards was locked in a close race with Republican Ramsey Farley of Temple. In South Texas, incumbent Republican Henry Bonilla trailed Democrat Henry Cuellar.
Before the election, the Texas delegation included 17 Democrats and 13 Republicans. The state gained two new seats in Congress through redistricting caused by the 2000 census.