Five weeks after a too-close-to-call Republican primary runoff in a Southwest Texas congressional district, Raul Reyes, a retired Air Force colonel, has abandoned a recount and conceded defeat to Tony Gonzales, a former Navy cryptologist, by a handful of votes.
Texans viewed the 23rd District’s House race as a referendum on the popularity of President Trump, who had backed Mr. Gonzales, versus Senator Ted Cruz, who had endorsed Mr. Reyes.
A mere seven votes separated Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Reyes on Election Day, July 14, with the vote count 12,346 to 12,339. After absentee and overseas ballots were counted in the 29-county district, Mr. Gonzales’s lead had grown to 45 votes.
Mr. Reyes demanded a recount, hoping that would put him ahead. But he said late Friday that a review of votes in the larger counties in the sprawling and rural district had netted him only six additional votes, reducing Mr. Gonzales’s margin of victory to 39 votes. As a result, he said, he concluded that it would be impossible to pick up those 39 votes in the remaining rural counties.
“Without a sizable shift in the vote margin after a recount in the most populous parts of the district, I have decided to end the recount,” Mr. Reyes said.
Republicans had worried that a drawn-out recount could further divide their party in the district, jeopardizing a House seat they hoped to retain after the retirement of Representative Will Hurd.
A spokesman for Mr. Gonzales asked for party unity. “We are pleased to now have the primary runoff completely behind us so the entire Republican Party can unify behind Tony Gonzales to win this crucial race in November,” said the spokesman, Matt Mackowiak.
Mr. Gonzales will now face Gina Ortiz Jones, a Democrat and a former Air Force intelligence officer, in November. Ms. Jones lost to Mr. Hurd by fewer than 1,000 votes in 2018, and Democrats hope she can flip the seat this year.