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Cornyn defeats Kirk in Texas Senate race

John Cornyn
John Cornyn

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AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) -- Texas Attorney General John Cornyn defeated Democrat Ron Kirk Tuesday in President Bush's home state, CNN projected.

Cornyn, the first Republican elected attorney general in Texas this century, had the strong backing of the White House. The president, his wife, his mother and his father, former President George Bush, all appeared on the Cornyn campaign trail in Texas. The president also headlined three fund-raisers for Cornyn.

The seat is being vacated by Texas Sen. Phil Gramm. The last Democrat to hold the seat was former President Lyndon Johnson.

To compete with Cornyn's fund raising, Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas, traveled the country to raise money with some Democrats who wouldn't dare show their faces in Texas, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York.

Democrats wanted to score political wins this fall in Bush's native Texas and hoped that Kirk, the first African-American to win a Senate nomination in Texas, would motivate unprecedented levels of minority voters, who traditionally vote Democratic. In the last midterm elections, African-Americans comprised 10 percent of Texas voters. In addition, about 30 percent of the state's 20 million people are Hispanic, and about two-thirds of Hispanic voters support Democrats.

Kirk, who had a reputation for being pro-business and helped to ease racial tensions while Dallas mayor, also needed to win substantial support from white voters to win.

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