By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
In a race that pitted two incumbents against each other in a newly redrawn congressional district, Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, defeated Rep. Charlie Stenholm, D-Abilene, by almost 20 percentage points on Tuesday. At press time, the results showed Neugebauer maintained the lead 58 percent to 40 percent over Stenholm. Libertarian candidate Richard Peterson had 2 percent of the votes.
Stenholm led the race in five of the 27 counties in the district: Castro, Fisher, Kent, Nolan and Taylor. In Taylor County, he won by 3 percentage points and only 990 votes, and voter turnout was at an all-time high with 48,479 people voting, compared to the previous record of 45,880.
Stenholm, who served District 17 for more than 25 years, gave a speech at 10 p.m. at the Elks Art Center in Abilene, thanking his family and supporters for their years of encouragement.
“As we said, it’s been a great 26 years-no regrets,” Stenholm said. “My congratulations to my opponent, Randy, in this race; he ran a good, hard race, and we congratulate him on his win.
“But the real winners are the people in this district,” he said. “We had a record turnout, and that’s what makes this night acceptable. Disappointing, but acceptable.”
After his speech, Stenholm called Neugebauer in Lubbock to concede the race, and at about 10:15 p.m., Neugebauer, who has served District 19 since June 2003, addressed his supporters at Texas Tech University and thanked God for his victory.
“One of the sweetest things to our ears is that people would walk up to Dana [his wife] and I and say, ‘I’m voting for you, but I’m also praying for you,'” Neugebauer said.
He added that he had just spoken to Stenholm and that District 17 and West Texas should be appreciative of Stenholm’s years in Congress.
“Just before I came out here, I had a phone call from a great congressman, Charlie Stenholm,” Neugebauer said. “I want to thank him for his service … and he is to be commended for his service and his sacrifice.”
In 2003, Texas congressional district lines were redrawn, splitting District 17, which included Abilene and San Angelo, into three parts and placing Abilene in District 19 with Lubbock. The new District 19 includes 27 counties that stretch from Deaf Smith near Amarillo on the New Mexico border down to Eastland County in the Big Country and up to Archer County near the Oklahoma border.