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Incumbents Dewhurst, Abbott Win Races
BY Danny robbins

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Attorney General Greg Abbott each won a third term Tuesday, leading a GOP sweep of statewide offices that is now heading toward its 20th year.

Dewhurst defeated Linda Chavez-Thompson, a labor leader and vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Abbott beat his Democratic challenger, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston attorney who ran unsuccessfully for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat in 2006.

Dewhurst told The Associated Press he believes his victory was part of a message for "government as a last resort" in Texas and elsewhere.

"What we're seeing among Texas candidates and those around the country is people want a government like we have in Texas -- one that doesn't spend everything it can, one focused on a business climate that creates jobs," he said.

Dewhurst, who also serves as president of the Texas Senate, said his top priority will be working on the state budget, which has been projected to have a shortfall of up to $20 billion.

Abbott told the AP that his victory gives momentum to his high-profile lawsuits challenging President Obama's health care reforms and the Environmental Protection Agency's ruling that greenhouse gases threaten the environment.

"The voters were given a lot of information (about the court cases), and, knowing that, they gave me an overwhelming victory," Abbott said.

Other Republican incumbents, including Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, also defeated their Democratic challengers convincingly.

Democrats have been shut out of statewide offices since 1994, and Tuesday's results mean the status quo can remain through a second decade.

"Whether it's a tea party or our party, we're having a party tonight," Patterson said during a Republican victory party at an exotic game ranch in Buda outside Austin, where Gov. Rick Perry delivered his victory speech after defeating Bill White.

Patterson also won a third term with his defeat of former state Sen. Hector Uribe, who represented Brownsville in the Legislature for 12 years in the 1970s and 1980s. The Texas Land Office, the oldest state agency, manages the Texas coast as well as 13 million acres of state land.

Patterson called the string of Republican wins "the best, most substantial, hit 'em where it hurts victory I've ever encountered."

"It feels real good to be out here among a thousand, liberty loving, God fearing, gun owning, pro life, property-rights defending, Socialism opposing, family raising, oil and gas drilling Republicans who are better off for it," he said.

In the agriculture commissioner contest, Staples beat challenger Hank Gilbert in a rematch from 2006.

A race that some believed could break the Republican lock also held to form, with Republican David Porter topping Democrat Jeff Weems for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission.

Porter, a Giddings accountant, ousted incumbent Victor Carrillo, the Republicans' highest-ranking Hispanic officeholder, in the GOP primary. Carrillo, who served as chairman of the body that regulates oil and gas production and transmission, later claimed that GOP voters were biased against Hispanics.

Weems, a Houston energy attorney, raised more money than Porter and gained newspaper endorsements as well as the support of industry leaders.

State Comptroller Susan Combs, who didn't face a Democratic challenger, won her bid for re-election.