Reyes Ducks Interviews But Finally Concedes To O'Rourke

Congressman Leaves For Washington, D.C. Just Hours After His Defeat In 16th Congressional Race

POSTED: 06:19 AM MDT May 30, 2012    UPDATED: 07:43 AM MDT May 30, 2012 
EL PASO, Texas -

Late Wednesday afternoon Rep. Silvestre Reyes finally conceded the primary race for the 16th Congressional seat to challenger Beto O'Rourke.

But ABC-7's request to speak with Reyes or a member of his campaign about the reasons for the defeat was denied.

ABC-7 did catch up with O'rourke and County Elections Administrator Javier Chacon to talk about the factors that appear to have led to the loss for Reyes, a deeply-entrenched 16-year congressional veteran.

While Reyes and his campaign supporters danced around the question of what cost them the race, O'Rourke and his supporters celebrated a 50.5 percent to 44.4 percent victory.

"On our side, we don't have any hard feelings," said O'Rourke, who called it one of the hardest fought campaigns in El Paso history.

By the slimmest of margins, thanks in part to his targeting the young, gay and crossover conservative vote, O'Rourke was able to avoid a runoff.

"It really took everyone doing everything they did for us to pull this off," he said. "We tried to meet voters everywhere we could, in their homes, on the telephone, in forums, community meetings and the Neon Desert Festival."

ABC-7 made several phone calls trying to contact Reyes and even went to his campaign headquarters trying to find him. But ABC-7 was told he left town.

Reyes spokesman Jose Borjon said Reyes left early Wednesday morning for Washington, D.C., because his border tunnel bill is being signed into law.

Then at about 3:30 p.m., Borjon issued a statement from Reyes stating: "I take this time to congratulate Mr. Beto O'Rourke in winning the 16th District of Texas Democratic Primary. My staff and I are ready to work with the new congressperson and their incoming staff to transition the office and to continue the vital work it provides this community."

Chacon said crossover voters from the Republican party no doubt helped O'Rourke avoid a runoff.

"If they see a highly contested race and they'd like to participate and do the crossover, they do it," Chacon said. "We did double the percentage on the Democratic side. Two years ago we had like seven percent on the democratic side while (tuesday) we averaged 13 to 14 percent."

Reyes did say Tuesday night that he felt $200,000 from a super pac for O'Rourke was a huge factor in the race.

But O'Rourke pointed out that exit polls after the first day of early voting, before the super pac got involved and started running commercials, showed him with 51 percent of the vote. And in the end, he said, that number held true through election day.