On a sweltering and rare July election day, conservatives and grassroots tea party activists turned up the heat in the GOP Primary Runoff, providing a night of strong wins for conservatives across the state.
In a U.S. Senate race that had taken on national importance, tea party favorite and perceived underdog, Ted Cruz, defeated Lt. Governor David Dewhurst by a significant margin 57% to 43%. This was a huge turnaround from the May Primary, where Dewhurst received more votes than Cruz but was unable to meet the 50% threshold to avoid the runoff. Cruz, who had little name recognition at the start of the campaign, built an incredibly strong coalition of grassroots conservatives across the state and used high-profile conservative endorsements from across the nation to win his first seat in elected office. Lt. Governor Dewhurst also had his share of conservative endorsements and support, but Cruz was not a sitting elected official and there has been a huge “anti-incumbent” force spreading across the country. Cruz is expected to join the growing conservative wing in the U.S. Senate, including the likes of Senators DeMint, Rubio, Lee, Paul, Johnson, and others.
In a hotly contested Texas Senate race, grassroots conservative and tea-party favorite Dr. Donna Campbell soundly defeated incumbent Jeff Wentworth by an almost 2 to 1 margin. Wentworth, who has been in the Texas Senate for over two decades, was the only Republican Senator to vote against the Sonogram Law and the pro-life, pro-family stance of Dr. Campbell was key to her successful campaign. Campbell will look to join other conservatives who will be new to the Texas Senate: Ken Paxton, Larry Taylor, Charles Schwertner, and Kelly Hancock, who won their primaries in May, in what could be a considerably more conservative Texas Senate if these candidate win in the November General Election.
In the Texas House, conservatives won a clear majority of the runoff races, including conservatives Stephanie Klick in HD91, Drew Springer in HD 68, Jeff Leach in HD67, and Dr. Greg Bonnen in HD 24. Add these to other strong conservatives from the May Primary, and the Texas House looks to have a solidified group of new conservative leaders for the next legislative session.
Overall, from top of the ticket down, it was an historic night for grassroots conservatives and a strong reminder of the growing strength of the tea party in Texas. Added to the strong showing that conservatives already had in the May Primary, it will be interesting to watch what happens between now and the November elections on values issues in Texas.