WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Royce West, a Black Texas state legislator, on Wednesday conceded to Air Force veteran MJ Hegar, the Democratic nominee to take on Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn in November.
Hegar declared herself the winner late Tuesday in the contest for the nomination to challenge the three-term incumbent.
While Texas has long leaned Republican, Democrats have voiced hope that demographic changes, including the growth of young non-white populations on the outskirts of Texas' urban areas, have made the state more competitive for them.
West delayed conceding until Wednesday while votes in some urban areas were still being counted. Hegar won by 52.1% to 47.9%, according to results from the Texas Secretary of State's office.
In a statement, West noted he had come close despite a large financial disadvantage and establishment Democratic backing for Hegar. “At the end of the day we were outspent something like $6 million to $800,000," he said. "We worked hard for every dollar against an opponent who had all the institutional and donor support."
West had hoped to be Texas' first Black U.S. senator. He told reporters on Tuesday his work on criminal justice reform as a state senator had boosted his momentum in the race, amid growing calls for racial justice after the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody.
"When I was born, my mother did not have the right to vote," he said on Wednesday. "We will keep working for justice in Texas."
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)