Huffman takes Texas Senate seat

HOUSTON Joan Huffman, 52, a Republican, had 24,431 votes, or 56 percent, in complete, unofficial returns. Bell, a Democrat, had 19,104, or 44 percent.

"I have my supporters and thousands of families (in the district) who believe in, I think, public service rather than politics as usual," Huffman said in a story in Tuesday's online edition of the Houston Chronicle. "And I am going to work from sunup to sundown to serve those families."

Bell, who failed in his 2006 bid for governor against Gov. Rick Perry, was the top vote-getter in the Nov. 4 election with 38 percent of the vote, and Huffman got 26 percent. The two advanced to a runoff because neither received a majority vote.

Bell said he had expected a tough fight in the runoff.

Huffman will serve the remainder of the term left open by Republican Sen. Kyle Janek's retirement. The term expires in January 2011.

Huffman's victory along with that of Wendy Davis in November will give the 31-member Senate six female senators. Patsy Spaw, secretary of the Senate, said the previous high for the number of female state senators was four.

Texas leaders in both major political parties have been heavily invested in the race. Republicans hold the majority in the Texas Senate, but Democrats have enough seats to block key legislation from coming up for a vote and are hoping to increase the size of that bloc.

Election night results

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