By STEFAN MODRICH
One of the most hotly-contested and high-profile races in Fort Bend County history is over.
Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, a Republican, defeated Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni to assume U.S. Rep. Pete Olson’s seat in Texas’ 22nd Congressional District, which includes Fort Bend County and parts of Harris County and Brazoria County.
Per the Texas Secretary of State, Nehls prevailed by a margin of 50 percent to 45 percent, or 155,809 votes to 138,694 votes.
Troy Nehls’ twin brother Trever Nehls, the county’s Precinct 4 Constable, was trailing Democrat Eric Fagan in the race to become the county’s next sheriff by more than 17,000 votes as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
More than 30,000 county voters cast their ballots on Election Day, and 358,000 (75 percent of registered voters) voted in total.
Texas Democrats targeted several Fort Bend seats in their bid to take control of the Texas House, needing to pick up nine seats to do so.
However, Republicans managed to get out to an early lead in House District 26, with Jacey Jetton in front of Democrat Sarah DeMerchant by nearly 3,000 votes. Incumbent Rep. Gary Gates has pulled ahead with 55 percent of the vote to challenger Eliz Markowitz’s 44 percent in a rematch of their January special election.
House District 85, which is primarily in rural Wharton County but contains parts of Richmond, Rosenberg, and Sugar Land, was contested by incumbent GOP Rep. Phil Stephenson and Democratic challenger Joey Cardenas III. Stephenson is edging Cardenas by 1,400 votes.
Republican State Senator Lois Kolhorst of District 18, a mostly rural district that includes Richmond, Rosenberg, and part of Sugar Land, picked up a win over Democratic challenger Michael Antalan, winning by nearly 15,000 votes. She declared victory less than two hours after the polls closed in a tweet, thanking her volunteers and campaign staff.
Also, Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn held off Democratic challenger MJ Hegar by a 12-point margin to clinch a fourth term. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Green of Missouri City, who has served as the congressman for District 9 since 2005, cruised to a decisive victory over Republican Johnny Teague.
A few minutes before midnight on Tuesday, Decision Desk HQ called Texas for President Donald Trump over Democratic challenger Joe Biden, the former vice president. Several states have not finished counting ballots as of early Wednesday.
A new era in Stafford
The headliner among a full slate of municipal races across Fort Bend was the Stafford mayoral election. The contest to succeed the late Leonard Scarcella as Stafford mayor is being led by AJ Honore, who has picked up 38 percent of the vote, just shy of 300 more votes than runner-up Cecil Willis as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, the most recent update on the county’s election results website.
Scarcella was the longest-tenured mayor in America, and served 51 years before his death in June.
Missouri City Mayor Yolanda Ford has received 48 percent of the vote in her bid for a second term, putting her in pole position ahead of challengers Robin Elackatt and Fred Taylor, with 31 and 20 percent of the vote, respectively.
Another incumbent, Vashaundra Edwards in City Council At Large Position 1, had established a razor-thin lead over Reginald Pearson. She is in front by 225 votes.
Chris Preston, incumbent in At Large Position 2, trailed challenger Lynn Clouser by more than 1,300 votes.
William Ferguson has taken a 15 point lead over Taylor Landin for the Sugar Land City Council At Large Position 1 seat vacated by Himesh Gandhi.