Who cares about the U.S. Senate? And control of the U.S. House? Forget it. What really matters is the battle for the Texas House. So far, this is the one bright spot for Democrats in the state. Incumbents are underlined.

Mark Homer (D) – Kirby Hollandsworth (R). Homer beat Hollandsworth in this Red River district by just a couple of hundred votes in 04. No sweat so far. Homer has 58+% of the vote and a 4,400 vote margin.

Chuck Hopson (D) – Larry Durrett (R). Both candidates are from Jacksonville. This rated to be close, and it is: Hopson lost the early vote by 20 votes but now has a lead of just under 300 votes (49.94 to 47.93) with more than 2/3 of the precincts still out.

Jim McReynolds (D) – Jody Anderson (R). Texans for Lawsuit Reform came after McReynolds hard but they aren’t going to get him. He has 56+% of the vote and leads by 3,300 votes.

Hubert Vo (D) – Talmadge Heflin (R). Only the early vote has been posted. Normally Republicans lead in the early voting, but Vo, who some (including me) thought was in trouble, leads, 4,642 to 3,707.

Ellen Cohen (D) – Martha Wong (R). Cohen won 58.34% of the early vote to open a 2,500 vote lead. Most vote-counting in Houston has not moved past the early voting stage.

Scott Hochberg (D) – Sylvia Spivey (R). Early voting was very light, and Hochberg leads by 250 votes, 54.51% to 45.42%.

Joe Farias (D) – George Antuna (R). Republicans had high hopes of picking up this San Antonio seat, but former Hutchison and Perry staffer Antuna barely lost the early vote and has been falling further behind. Farias has 51.22% of the vote and a 1,400 vote lead.

Allen Vaught (D) – Bill Keffer (R). Republicans thought Keffer needed help, and he got it–but perhaps not enough. With 35 of 58 precincts reporting, Vaught has a 500-vote lead (49.46%)in this Dallas district after losing the early vote. This would be a huge upset.

Robby Cook (D) – Tim Kleinschmidt (R). Cook was seen as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent, but he now leads in this pastoral district west of the Houston metro area by almost a thousand votes with just under half the precincts accounted for. REVISION: KLEINSCHMIDT HAS REGAIND THE LEAD (11:39 P.M.)

Harriet Miller (D) – Tony Goolsby (R). Goolsby was one of the five most vulnerable Republican incumbents. Never mind. Goolsby is sitting on a 2,500 vote lead (55.92%) with a little under half the precincts reporting.

Paula Hightower Pierson (D) – Toby Goodman (R). Another endangered Republican. Goodman took a slim lead in the early voting and has been holding on ever since. It’s down to around 300 votes with less than half the precincts still out.

Joe Heflin (D) – Jim Landtroop (R). This is Pete Laney’s district, the most vulnerable of all the Democratic seats, and the Ds had no chance to hold it. None. Tell that to Heflin, who trails by less than a percentage point with 37 precincts yet to be heard from.

David Farabee (D) – Shirley Craft (R). Farabee is the Chet Edwards of the state House; he occupies an overwhelmingly Republican district but the Rs can’t beat him. He has 58.21% of the vote and a 5,500 vote lead.

Yvonne Gonzalez-Toureilles (D) – Michael Esparza (R). Gonzalez-Toureilles grabbed what looked like a comfortable lead in the early voting–almost 2,400 votes–but it has been dwindling ever since. She still has a 1,700 vote lead and 52.35% of the vote, which should be good enough.

Solomon Ortiz Jr. (D) – Joe McComb (R). A thousand vote lead with one precinct outstanding will keep this seat Democratic.

Juan Garcia (D) – Gene Seaman (R). This is the second most vulnerable Republican seat, and the Rs made a huge effort to save Seaman. Garcia trailed by 600 votes after the early voting but has cut it to 190 with ten precincts unheard from.

One other race to mention: the El Paso state Senate race between Eliot Shapleigh, the Democratic incumbent, and Dee Margo, the Republican challenger and friend of the Bushes and Karl Rove. I was sure this race would be close, and was I ever wrong. People told me this is a 60-40 Democratic town, and, sure enough, Shapleigh is ahead by almost 9,000 votes (57.78%) with 99 precincts outstanding. The Ds still have 11 votes in the Senate, the magic number needed to keep legislation from being debated on the floor.

The partisan balance: Ds ahead in 2 races (Cohen-Wong and Vaught-Keffer) and have shots at three others (Garcia-Seaman, Heflin-Landtroop, and Miller-Goodman). Possible pickup of five seats. Republicans have a slight lead in the Cook-Kleinschmidt race. The Hochberg-Spivey race is close, but no returns have been posted since early voting.

I’ll keep you updated on the close races.