Editor’s note: This story’s been updated to reflect the nature of Libertarian Bill Kelsey’s military service.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Voters agreed Tuesday night to send Rep. Michael McCaul back to Congress for what will be his 10th term in office. He said he especially wanted to thank voters in Travis County for their support because he won that portion of his sprawling, newly-redrawn district.
“I’m trying to be a common-sense conservative that wants to get good things done for the American people,” McCaul said during an interview Wednesday with KXAN.
McCaul won with 158,784 votes (63.27%). Democrat Linda Nuno had 86,123 (34.32%) and Libertarian Bill Kelsey had 6,051 (2.41%).
On Election Night, McCaul said in a statement he’s “deeply honored” that people have trusted him to continue serving them.
“Though we have endured much this year, I firmly believe America is on the precipice of rising back like we did in 1980 – Republicans are united behind our Commitment to America in order to restore our incredible nation’s economy, safety and security, while projecting strength across the globe. It’s all of our responsibilities to get this country back on track and hand down a better America to the next generation. By working together, we can overcome any obstacle and lift up our citizens so that they can achieve their own American Dream,” McCaul said.
That district represents more than 900,000 residents in parts of Austin, Bastrop, Colorado, Fayette, Harris, Lee, Travis, Washington and Waller counties.
This is the first election to take place within the state’s new district lines, which were redrawn by Republican legislatures in 2021. He’s held the seat for 18 years and was challenged this time by Democrat Nuno.
Since 2005, McCaul chaired the House Committee on Homeland Security three times. He said Wednesday he expects to become the first Texan to serve as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee next year, as Republicans are projected to take the majority.
He said he supports providing more financial assistance and weapons to Ukraine, especially after Russia’s military claimed Wednesday it will withdraw from the only Ukrainian regional capital it captured.
“They’re on the run, by the way. Their heels are knocked back,” McCaul said about Russia. “They’re losing this fight, and now’s the time to really support [Ukraine] — not to pull out and cut and run.”
He also explained what he thinks it will take to bridge divides within his own party about future support for Ukraine.
“It’s going to be an educational process,” McCaul said. “I think I say that we’re not going to write a blank check. We are going to have oversight and accountability. We are going to ask our NATO allies to step up to the plate, and, you know, bear the cost in the burden of this effort.”
He said he intends to “strongly support” Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to become House Speaker since it appears the GOP will win a narrow majority in the lower chamber. He said he also hopes to work with President Joe Biden on issues ranging from the economy and energy to the border and national security issues.
“I hope we have a president who will work with us, a Republican Congress, not unlike Bill Clinton,” McCaul said. “Bill Clinton had a choice: am I going to work with a Republican Congress or not? If I were advising the president for a day, I’d say take a page out of Bill Clinton’s playbook because that’s what’s going to be best for the American people.”
Since 2011, he is among the top 10 wealthiest U.S. Congress members, according to rankings by Roll Call.
Nuno, who is originally from California, decided to run after she said she had negative experiences with police, which inspired her to tackle police corruption, according to her campaign website.
Kelsey was the third-party candidate running for the seat. He said his decision to run came after the congressman gave a generic response to his letter of complaint. Kelsey, who works as a flight instructor, told KXAN that he was discharged from Naval service as a conscientious objector.