by Kate Scanlon

Wesley Hunt, an Army combat veteran, won the Republican nomination for a House seat in one of Texas’s new congressional districts on Tuesday.

Texas was the only state that saw enough population growth in the 2020 census to add two new congressional seats to its delegation. The new 37th District leans Democratic, while the 38th, now won by Hunt, is heavily Republican.

Hunt ran a close congressional race against Democratic Rep. Lizzie Panhill Fletcher in 2020 in a different Houston-area district. He was seen as a front-runner in the new 38th District and was endorsed in the race by former President Donald Trump and other Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

In a statement, Hunt said, “I am incredibly honored and grateful to the Republican voters of Texas’ 38th Congressional district for giving me the opportunity to be the Republican nominee in the General Election.” 

“The support our campaign has received since July has been overwhelming, and I cannot thank everyone enough for dedicating their time and resources to this cause,” Hunt said. “I am elated to accept the nomination for Texas’ new 38th Congressional district.”

Despite nine opponents in the primary, Hunt met the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff election. Hunt vastly outraised his rivals, who hit him for his support from Republicans in Washington. Republican activist Mark Ramsey emerged as Hunt’s most prominent challenger.

One point of controversy in the race was Hunt’s vote in the state’s 2008 Democratic primary. Hunt said he was participating in “Operation Chaos,” an effort promoted by the late conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh to stall the Democratic presidential nomination process between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton after John McCain won the Republican nomination.

Votes are still being counted as of Wednesday, but community activist Diana Martinez Alexander led the Democratic field, although she appeared to be heading for a runoff election after failing to clear the 50% threshold. Hunt’s primary victory leaves him likely to win election to Congress in the predominantly Republican district.

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If Hunt is elected to Congress, he would be one of just three black Republicans in the House, joining Reps. Byron Donalds of Florida and Burgess Owens of Utah, according to the House Press Gallery. There are currently 56 black Democrats in Congress.

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