District 27 U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz will seek a recount to the Nov. 2 election, officials with the congressman's office confirmed this week.
Nov. 2 seemed to mark the end of an era in South Texas, as election night returns showed longtime District 27 U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz was narrowly defeated by Republican challenger Blake Farenthold.
Farenthold led the race from beginning to end, although he saw a 4,090 vote lead after early voting slowly dwindle as counties in the southern part of the district turned in results. In the six counties in the district, 106,480 votes were cast in the race, and the final margin of victory stood at just 799 Nov. 2 - in favor of Farenthold.
Farenthold totaled 50,954 votes, good enough for 47.85 percent of the total, while Ortiz received 50,155 votes, or 47.1 percent.
Late last week, Nueces County Clerk Diana Barrera acknowledged that seven paper ballots taken from Robstown when power went out to the Johnny S. Calderon building during early voting had been discovered. Those seven ballots all had votes going to Ortiz, raising his total to 50,162 and cutting Farenthold's margin of victory to 792.
In a written statement released Friday, Ortiz said the discovery of those ballots led him to believe a recount would be the proper course of action.
"As I have said since Tuesday, we still need to ensure every vote is counted before determining the outcome of this race. However, since numerous voting irregularities have been reported in the 27th Congressional District of Texas race, I have also decided to ask for a manual recount. Just in the first days of counting, we've seen uncounted votes appear," Ortiz wrote. "It is my utmost desire to ensure that the votes of the people of South Texas be cast and counted and that no vote be left out. Therefore, we've begun putting together the documents necessary to request a recount. I thank all who participated in the election process."
Jose Borjon, a spokesman for the congressman, said Monday Ortiz's team had learned that it would not be required to file for a recount in each of the district's six counties, as was originally indicated. Instead, Ortiz planned to file a formal request for a recount to the Texas Secretary of State late Monday or early Tuesday.
Shortly after the final results were announced Tuesday night, Farenthold said he never doubted that he could win against the 27-year incumbent.
"I wouldn't have gotten in if I didn't think I could have won it. But it was definitely a nail-biter," Farenthold said. "I knew we could do it all along."
Farenthold pointed to a sweeping round of victories for the Republican party, which wrested control of the House of Representatives from the Democrats, as a clear signal from the voters that change was necessary.
"I really think there's a national mandate to reexamine 'ObamaCare'," Farenthold said. "But really, the most important thing is to find a way to get the economy going."
When asked what he believed caused the voters to turn against Ortiz, Farenthold said the incumbent had simply lost touch with his constituents.
"If you have to ask me what I think is the one issue that pushed me over, it would be Ortiz's pro-choice voting record. This is predominately a Catholic voting area, and I think that hurt him," Farenthold said. "I think he forgot he was from a conservative district. He bought into what was going on in Washington D.C."
Although the Republicans won a sweeping majority across the state and nation, Farenthold acknowledged the clear division between voters in the district, and said he would work to represent both Republicans and Democrats.
"I always intend to listen to everybody. I grew up in a family that was half liberal and half conservative," Farenthold said. "I'm used to listening to both sides of an issue."
Farenthold did not receive a call from Ortiz or his representatives lst week, leading him to suspect that a recount would be sought.
"I would hate for this to go to the lawyers," Farenthold said. "I wouldn't be surprised…If he brings in the lawyers, he's not listening to the people."
Farenthold only won two of the six counties in the district, taking big wins in Nueces and San Patricio County. In Nueces, Farenthold received 32,251 votes to only 25,863 for Ortiz. He overwhelmed Ortiz in San Patricio County, however, taking 5,450 votes to just 1,804 for Ortiz. The southern portion of the district went heavily for Ortiz, but it was not enough to overcome Farenthold's lead. Cameron County posted the final returns of the night, with Ortiz receiving 17,842 votes to 9,976 for Farenthold. Ortiz also took Kleberg County, receiving 2,931 votes to Farenthold's 2,381. In Willacy County, Ortiz nearly doubled Farenthold's total, with 1,606 votes to the Republican's 813. Ortiz also was victorious in Kenedy County, with 116 votes to Farenthold's 83.
Libertarian candidate Ed Mishou received 5,371 votes, good enough for five percent of the total. Although fellow Libertarian Robert Powell received 1,258 more votes in the 2008 election, Powell only accounted for 3.99 percent of the votes cast in the District 27 U.S Representative race that year. Mishou received the most votes in Nueces County, where 2,738 voters cast their ballots for him.