Solomon P. Ortiz on Monday conceded the District 27 U.S. Representative race to Republican Blake Farenthold following the completion of a recount in Cameron County that showed Farenthold as the winner.
In a written statement, Ortiz said the recount resulted in each candidate gaining only "a handful of votes," with the outcome remaining unchanged from the Nov. 2 General Election. Ortiz was defeated by Farenthold by less than 800 votes in that election, and asked for a recount shortly thereafter.
The last of the six counties that comprise District 27, Cameron County, completed its manual recount of election results Monday, but final totals were not available as of press time. There was no change in the voting totals in Nueces County, County Clerk Diana Barrera said last week.
Ortiz congratulated Farenthold on his victory in Monday's statement.
"I wish him well," Ortiz said. "I ask Mr. Farenthold, as I have done so for the past 27 years, to represent every one of his constituents in this Congressional District."
Farenthold, now congressman-elect until he is sworn into office in January, said on Monday that he received a call from Ortiz congratulating him on his win.
"Congressman Ortiz congratulated me on my victory, he wished me well and promised to help with the transition," Farenthold said. "It's good to be out of limbo and it's good to be able to go after it 100 percent."
Farenthold said he recently attended orientation for all freshman members of Congress, but was not allowed to conduct certain activities that are common for a transition, such as selecting his office and ordering supplies and letterhead.
"Even though I was allowed to participate in freshman orientation, there were some things I couldn't do, like ordering stationary, arranging for furniture in the office - just some of those details where they needed a sure thing before they were willing to spend federal dollars," he said.
Farenthold said he has been informed that there are no spare offices for congressional leaders, so he will be allowed to use Ortiz's current office as his own for the first two years of his term. At that point, he will be placed into an office lottery with the other sophomore members of Congress. The procedure is a tradition, Farenthold said, and one that he will just take in stride as he acclimates to being a newly elected congressman.
"It'd be a shameful waste of the taxpayers' money to make me move out of it in two years, but it's not my top legislative priority," he said. "I'd be happy to serve from a closet."
Farenthold said he has met other members of Congress's freshman class, many of whom are fellow Republicans, and was impressed by the leadership they all showed.
"What a great bunch of motivated men and women who are committed to keeping the promises that we made during the campaign," he said.
One of the main processes to be conducted by Farenthold before taking office in January is picking out his staff, which he said was delayed due to the recount. Farenthold said he was permitted to discuss the idea of serving on the staff with individuals, but was not allowed to formally offer anyone a job. Now, Farenthold said, that restriction has been lifted and he is in the process of organizing his Congressional staff.
"We really need to have a final decision made in a couple of weeks to allow them to give appropriate notice and be ready hit the ground rolling on Jan. 5 in Washington D.C.," he said.
Farenthold said he is looking forward to working on behalf of the constituents of District 27 and hopes to serve them all equally on issues that concern them.
"My commitment is to be one of the most communicative congressmen ever," he said.
Ortiz, a Robstown native, said he was grateful to all the supporters who volunteered and contributed to his campaign, as well as those voters who re-elected him back into office for 14 consecutive terms. He also expressed having no regrets over any votes he cast while in federal office.
"I leave the national stage, certain of having done the right thing for those I represented. In the thousands of votes I cast in Congress for the 27th Congressional District of Texas, time and time again, I voted as my constituents asked me to do so," Ortiz said. "But just as important, I voted with my heart and for the best interest of all the people and communities I have had the pleasure of representing. I stand behind each and every one of those votes today and always will."