Bryan Hughes will face a runoff with David Simpson in the race for Senate District 1, according to complete, unofficial returns.
When the final votes came in after 1 a.m. Wednesday, 13 votes separated Simpson and James "Red" Brown.
The top two vote-getters will face each other for a May 24 runoff, because no candidate was able to win an outright majority.
The eventual winner would replace Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, who announced he would not seek re-election in January 2017.
Hughes, 46, an attorney from Mineola, received 63,844 votes, or 47.98 percent. Simpson, 54, a businessman and former Avinger mayor, received 28,288 votes, or 21.26 percent.
Brown, 57, of Lindale, a two-star major general and acting deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army Forces Command in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, received 28,275 votes, or 21.25 percent.
Simpson said he hopes to bring Brown's supporters to his side.
"I look forward to continuing the race," Simpson said. "It's a close race, and I'm hoping those voters would help me in the runoff."
Mike Lee, 57, of Queen City, a retired U.S. Navy hovercraft pilot, motivational speaker and small business owner, received 12,630 early votes, or 9.49 percent.
Hughes and Simpson are current Texas House members in House District 5 and House District 7, respectively. Hughes was elected as a state representative in 2003.
Simpson was elected to the Texas House in 2010. Brown is a former Lindale ISD trustee.
All three candidates showed strong financial support among District 1 residents. Hughes received significant support from around the state, including political action committees. Analysts have considered Hughes the frontrunner from the start, after political action groups put money and endorsements behind his campaign. Hughes also received a prized endorsement from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick early in the race.
Brown, Hughes and Simpson raised more than $1.3 million combined since July 2015. Hughes accounted for around half of that amount.
District 1 represents Bowie, Camp, Cass, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Panola, Red River, Rusk, Smith, Titus, Upshur and Wood counties, which means candidates must appeal to voters from cities such as Texarkana, Tyler, Carthage, Longview, Paris and Mount Pleasant.
Hughes did not return calls for comment.