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U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, Kay Granger locked in primary battles as early returns come in

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U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth. Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune | David Kent via REUTERS

As primary election night returns trickled in Tuesday night, U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, showed strength in early returns.

With vote totals still coming in, Granger claimed victory over former Colleyville City Council member Chris Putnam.

"You know, we can keep waiting, but it remains 60-40 so far, so I’ll stay here," Granger said, talking about the Tarrant County results culled by her team. Asked if she was declaring victory, she said "yes."

As for Cuellar, the early vote returns showed he garnered 55% of the vote to challenger Jessica Cisneros' 45%. Even so, some Cuellar allies remained privately nervous about his prospects.

Both Cuellar and Granger are longtime incumbents who sit on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Congressional races in Texas have been getting more attention after the rash of retirements from some longtime incumbents. Six Texas Republicans announced their retirements last year, creating open-seat races to replace them and a sprawling field of hopefuls. Moreover, national Democrats and Republicans are targeting nine of the state's 36 U.S. House seats.

Other primary races included nominating contests to take on incumbents: Democratic U.S. Reps. Colin Allred of Dallas and Lizzie Fletcher of Houston, and Republican U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul of Austin, Dan Crenshaw of Houston and John Carter of Round Rock. Additionally, former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, who previously represented a Dallas-area district, is attempting a congressional comeback after he relocated to the Waco area and is making a run the Bryan-based 17th Congressional District.

Juan Pablo Garnham reported from Fort Worth.