AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Former state lawmaker Paul Sadler has moved forward to a runoff for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat.
Sadler is an attorney who served in the state House from 1991-2003. The race was too close to call for who he will run against.
Sadler's campaign goes after a new target starting Wednesday, but Tuesday night, they celebrated their victory.
The celebration only came after a night of cautious optimism for Sadler. Early voting totals gave the Texas political veteran a solid lead he refused to acknowledge until the majority of the votes came in.
At Sadler's election watch party in downtown Austin, all eyes were on the incoming numbers in what was expected to be a tight primary. Sadler entered the race as a front-runner.
Early polls suggested his main opposition would come from Sean Hubbard, the 31-year-old political newcomer who turned more than a few heads in several debate appearances. Tuesday night, the votes showed otherwise.
It appears Sadler is destined for a runoff with Grady Yarbrough, a retired San Antonio educator who ran unsuccessfully for state treasurer and land commissioner back in the 80s and 90s.
KVUE asked Sadler on his thoughts on stretching out an already long campaign.
"If there's a run-off, then there's a runoff," Sadler said. "July 29th or 30th, or whatever that date is, is not an ideal date. I don't think any of us are particularly happy with it, but I don't think any of us were happy with an election the day after Memorial Day either. We'll just keep hitting the Democratic clubs and talking to as many people as we can. If I get into a runoff, that's what I'll continue to do."
Aside from political experience, Sadler says he's a unique fit for the job of Texas Senator. The former state representative was born in South Texas, grew up in West Texas, went to law school in Central Texas, before raising in family in Henderson, located in East Texas.
Whoever does the Democratic Senate primary has a far bigger battle lying ahead. Texas hasn't elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since Lloyd Bentsen in 1988. The seat is open because Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is retiring.
Sadler has expressed support for President Barack Obama's health care laws, Planned Parenthood clinics and allowing tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest residents to expire.