Tea Party appears poised for big victories in Texas run-offs

DALLAS TX Tue May 27, 2014 2:41am EDT

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) walks during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington May 3, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) walks during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington May 3, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

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DALLAS TX (Reuters) - Texas conservatives are hoping to win two major Republican run-off elections on Tuesday, for lieutenant governor and attorney general, underscoring the Tea Party’s enduring influence in the state.

Those two races were left undecided after no single candidate crossed the 50 percent threshold in the March 4 Republican primary, setting the stage for what has been a bruising run-off election between establishment candidates and conservative challengers who have the backing of both the Tea Party movement and its Texas star, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

The winner of Tuesday's run-offs will go on to face a Democrat in the November elections.

In the race for Lieutenant Governor, Tea Party favorite State Senator Dan Patrick took 41.5 percent of the vote in the four-candidate March primary, and is favored to win on Tuesday. The three-term incumbent, David Dewhurst, finished with 28 percent.

The run-off race for state attorney general features a similar showdown, after Tea Party-backed State Senator Ken Paxton took 44 percent of the primary vote and State Representative Dan Branch won 34 percent.

The current attorney general, Republican Greg Abbott, already has his party's backing to face Democrat Wendy Davis in the race for Texas governor in November.

Nationally, the movement for smaller government that takes its name from the 18th century U.S. revolt against British colonial rule has seen its strength wane this year. That does not appear to be the case in Texas.

"Republican politics in Texas has become a race to the right," said Republican strategist Bill Miller. "I do think the Republican Party could be eclipsed by the Tea Party here."

One exception to the Tea Party's expected dominance on Tuesday could come in a Dallas-area congressional race. Congressman Ralph Hall, a 91-year-old lawmaker running for an 18th term, is favored over his Tea Party-backed challenger, John Ratcliffe, a former U.S. Attorney.

Hall, the oldest serving member of the U.S. House, has a host of conservative backers of his own, including U.S. Representative Michele Bachman and former Congressman Ron Paul.

While Ratcliffe, 48, has tried to use Hall’s age against him, Hall has embraced it. In a television ad, Hall pointed to a wrinkle and said he had earned it battling liberal policies.

"By gosh, I’ve got room for a few more wrinkles," he said.

(Editing by Edith Honan and Clarence Fernandez)

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Comments (42)
Buzzby wrote:
This may be a good thing. I would hope that in the general election, even conservative Texans might hesitate to vote for an over-the-top tea bagger.

May 27, 2014 4:21am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Seriously2016 wrote:
The Tea Party’s “Texas Star” Ted Cruz? I invite anyone to google Ted Cruz supported legislation for 2014. After you’ve done that please explain to me why we are paying this guys salary. Two bills to either repeal or defund ACA (which have gone nowhere) and 6 other do nothing pieces of legislation. But he is a good public speaker…and a Harvard Lawyer. This guy’s claim to fame is that he was part of the Republican effort that shutdown the government over the “Debt Ceiling” argument. The infamous “green eggs and ham filibuster”. Based on virtually nothing of substance that he’s done as a Senator he is being touted as a candidate for President? Exactly what vision has Cruz presented (specific legislation) for fixing our problems? Nothing I can find. But what I find particularly troubling is his willingness to violate Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The debt is no doubt an issue. Cruz was wrong in his stance against the debt ceiling and Obama was also wrong in his stance against the debt ceiling when he was a Congressman. The establishment of the debt ceiling is asinine. It has no practical purpose other than political. The debt and deficits are simply the result of appropriation bills and taxation laws passed by Congress. The 14th Amendment says those expenditures can not be challenged. PERIOD! The correct process to address the debt and deficits is the Budget. Which is totally controlled by Congress. Where are Senator Cruz’s specific proposals to curb spending and reduce the debt? If you can find those you are a better person than I am. So I’ll ask again what has this Senator done that demonstrates leadership worthy of being a President? Rather than focusing on Presidential candidates, when will American’s wake up and demand that both sides of Congress put away the “my way or the highway” mentality that currently exists and come together in a bipartisan way and pass a reasonable Budget that addresses the out of control spending problem we have? Everything should be on the table.

May 27, 2014 4:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ExDemocrat wrote:
The key thing is for Texas to stay on its path of having a relatively small-sized state government, and pro-growth state and local economic policies. The temptation is to go with the status quo in the U.S., which is to favor ever-more: public regulation of everything, federal government spending, public sector unions, deficits, higher taxes, borrowing, and making success illegal.

May 27, 2014 5:11am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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