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Democratic Party Runoff: Vicente Gonzalez crushes Sonny Palacios in congressional race

Edinburg school board Trustee Juan "Sonny" Palacios Jr. (left) and attorney Vicente Gonzalez.

Attorney Vicente Gonzalez crushed Edinburg school board Trustee Juan "Sonny" Palacios Jr. during the Democratic Party runoff for Congressional District 15 on Tuesday night.

Gonzalez won nearly 66 percent of about 24,400 ballots cast, according to preliminary results published by the Texas Secretary of State's Office.

The runoff pitted Gonzalez -- a political newcomer -- against Palacios, a member of the politically influential Edinburg Palacios family.

Gonzalez outspent Palacios roughly 4-1 during the campaign.

Gonzalez spent nearly $1.7 million, according to Federal Election Commission records last updated on May 4. Palacios spent nearly $400,000.

Both candidates wrote big checks to their campaign accounts, supplementing donations from supporters.

Palacios loaned himself about $261,000, but couldn't compete with Gonzalez -- who loaned himself $1.65 million. Only five candidates nationwide have poured more money into their campaigns during the 2016 campaign cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks campaign spending.

They sparred over spending at the Futuro McAllen candidate forum in April.

"$1.6 million. An obscene amount of money to be spending on a job that pays you $177,000," Palacios said. "It's ridiculous."

Gonzalez refused to apologize, telling the audience he hadn't done anything wrong.

"Well, I always say I don't apologize for spending my own my own money that I earned myself," Gonzalez said. "It takes money to run a campaign efficiently and professionally."

Both Palacios and Gonzalez emerged from a six-way primary.

Gonzalez won about 42 percent of nearly 52,500 ballots cast, according to the Texas Secretary of State's Office. With nearly 19 percent of the vote, Palacios placed a distant second.

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