DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Colin Allred and Lillian Salerno have emerged as the top two candidates in the Democratic primary for the 32nd Congressional District, one of the most talked about races in North Texas.

colin allred 5 Allred, Salerno Prepare For Democratic Runoff In 32nd Congressional District

(credit: colinallred.com)

The primary turned out to be a nail-biter overnight for second place, to see who would be in the runoff.

screen shot 2018 02 20 at 5 01 48 pm Allred, Salerno Prepare For Democratic Runoff In 32nd Congressional District

Lillian Salerno (Jack Fink – CBS11)

While Allred earned 39 perecent of the votes, Lillian Salerno and former tv reporter Brett Shipp were really close for much of the night Tuesday.

screen shot 2017 12 07 at 7 34 56 pm Allred, Salerno Prepare For Democratic Runoff In 32nd Congressional District

Brett Shipp (CBS11)

Shipp actually placed second in the early vote, but when all of the primary votes were counted, Salerno surpassed him with 18 percent of the vote.

Shipp had 16 percent, while Ed Meier, who raised more than any other candidate with $913,345 and aired multiple ads on DFW TV stations, received only 14 percent of the vote.

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson says female voters may have made the difference for Salerno — who made the #MeToo movement part of her campaign mailers to voters.

While Salerno and Allred agree on many of the issues, they must now differentiate themselves.

Jillson says Allred will be tough to beat.  “No, it’s not going to be easy because Colin Allred is better known, he was one of the first in the race.  he was thought to be the leader all the way alog and he had a nice slice of the vote.”

The winner of this runoff May 22 will go on to run against Republican incumbent Pete Sessions.

The last time he had a competitive race against a Democrat was 2004 against Martin Frost.

Sessions says he’s ready for the debate.

This general election battle will be very expensive and receive national attention because while this Congressional district is held by a Republican, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 1 percent.

While more Democrats voted early than Republicans in the top 15 counties for population, statewide numbers show Republicans had a record turnout in a Gubernatorial-only primary.

The Texsa Secretary of State says statewide, 804,581 Republicans voted early while 565,344 Democrats voted early.

In total, 1,543,574 Republicans voted in the primary and 1,037,764 voted in the Democratic primary.

While the Democrats had a very high turnout, it was not a record.

The Secretary of State’s Office says the record for Democrats was in 1978.