Rep. Chet Edwards Loses Texas Seat

After serving for 20 years, Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards' career in the House of Representatives came to an end last night at the hands of Republican challenger Bill Flores.

Edwards, who has long represented one of the nation's most heavily conservative districts, said he put his full support behind Congressmen-elect Flores Tuesday night to a Waco crowd of about 300.

"There is a time to fight for our causes and a time to put our differences aside," Edwards said. "Tonight, I ask all the people of our district to join together, as Texans and as Americans, to wish Mr. Flores and his family well in their service to our great country."

Tears were flowing as supporters, some of whom have been with Edwards since the beginning of his career, gathered around the congressman to offer words of encouragement.

Many believe that nationwide anti-incumbent sentiments worked in Flores' favor this election season.

"I think the anti-incumbent movement unfortunately played a big role in the result of this election," said Waco voter Kevin Keathley. "People got focused on listening to all the chatter nationwide and didn't think pragmatically about the decisions they made with their votes. Chet's done a great job for us locally, and under Bill Flores I don't think we [Waco residents] are going to get the attention we need."

Edwards called working for Central Texas families an honor and said that the biggest privilege of his 20-year career has been working on behalf of American servicemen and women, along with veterans and their families. Edwards has been a champion of veterans' affairs for years, fighting to improve the quality of life for veterans and their families.

"As a father of two young sons, I will forever be grateful for your service and sacrifice to protect our nation," he said. "I have seen, time and again, that we are the land of the free, because we are still the home of the brave."

Commander Christopher Waters served seven years in the armed forces and questioned Flores' ability to serve veterans in the same capacity Edwards did.

"I support Mr. Edwards because he has always supported us and what the military stands for," Waters said. "Flores coming in is like a rookie quarterback coming into the NFL. There's no way we'll get the same level of support or that he'll get the same amount of things done."

Flores had a message that resonated with voters about things wrong in Washington, Edwards said.

"I am honored and humbled by the trust that the voters have placed in me," Flores said in a statement. "Ultimately, the voters sent a clear message that they want a new Congress that will help the economy recover, remove barriers to private sector job creation and immediately reduce wasteful deficit spending. Tonight we will celebrate this hard won victory. Tomorrow we will begin restoring promise and prosperity for future generations of Americans."

Waco voters have felt the benefits of having a congressman from their area and worry that they will become an afterthought once Flores takes office.

"Chet has done so much for our county, everything from the university to schools to the military," said Charles Petree, a local high school teacher. "Everyone who has ever had to call on him for anything knows they will get an answer, and a satisfactory one at that. I think Flores won't care as much about this area, because he's so far removed."

Edwards, who has survived repeated Republican threats over the past 20 years, assured his supporters that he is still optimistic about America's future and hopes that elected officials "find a way to move beyond the bitter partisanship" to work together to solve problems.

"Please know that working for causes you believe in is never a lost cause," he said.