- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2002

DALLAS Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, buoyed by millions of dollars and backed by virtually all the state's top Democrats, defeated Victor Morales yesterday in their runoff for the Democrat nomination for the U.S. Senate.
With 82 percent of the state's 6,539 precincts reporting, Mr. Kirk led with 304,202 votes to Mr. Morales' 216,088 a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent.
"I feel great, absolutely relieved and exhausted," Mr. Kirk said.
Mr. Kirk, the first black mayor of Dallas, will face Republican Attorney General John Cornyn in November to fill the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Phil Gramm.
"I look forward to a vigorous and civil debate on the issues with Mr. Kirk in the fall," Mr. Cornyn said through a spokesman.
Although good weather prevailed over most of the state, turnout was low barely 6 percent of the state's 12.2 million registered voters.
In the March 12 primary, Mr. Morales finished slightly ahead of Mr. Kirk and ousted U.S. Rep. Ken Bentsen of Houston.
Mr. Kirk heavily carried North Texas getting 90 percent of the vote in Dallas County. He also had the edge in much of Central Texas and the Houston area. He even got 38 percent of the vote in heavily Hispanic South Texas, where Mr. Morales expected to fare best.
Mr. Morales, a schoolteacher from Crandall, a few miles east of Dallas, not only could not get his message on radio and television, but saw almost every influential Democrat backing Mr. Kirk. He spent less than $20,000, while Mr. Kirk spent more than $2 million.
The state's top Democrats feared a Morales win would result in another Republican romp in the U.S. Senate race. The underfunded, pickup-driving Mr. Morales ran a part-time campaign against Mr. Gramm in 1996 and lost badly.
The Kirk campaign argued that, if elected, he would be the only black in the U.S. Senate and the first to represent Texas. Such a prospect could result in a massive nationwide surge of financial and other support.
In the other major runoff yesterday, Michael Burgess, a Highland Village obstetrician/gynecologist, pulled off a major upset by defeating Denton County Judge Scott Armey in the Republican runoff for the seat that has been held by his father, Dick Armey, the retiring House majority leader.
With almost half the votes counted in the 26th Congressional District, Mr. Burgess was leading by 53 percent to 46 percent. The younger Mr. Armey, after talking at length with his father, conceded defeat about 9:30 p.m. CDT when trailing by some 2,200 votes.
"Now I can get back to my job as county judge, and there's a lot of work to be done there," said Mr. Armey, adding that he was in "a bit of shock."
Mr. Armey had finished well ahead of Mr. Burgess in the March 12 primary. Mr. Burgess will face Democrat Paul Lebon in the heavily Republican North Texas district.

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