Dem Pollster Schoen on GOP Runoffs: 'Tea Party Ain't Dead'

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 11:39 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Huge victories by tea party-backed Republicans in the top two runoff contests in Texas on Tuesday proved that "the tea party ain't dead," Democratic pollster and analyst Doug Schoen told Newsmax.

"This is a clear, unambiguous sign that activist conservatives in the Republican Party have a strong position that is not going away," Schoen said. "This is a very clear sign that reports of the demise of the tea party are grossly exaggerated.

"These are blowout landslides — and the Republican establishment needs to take heed."

Julie Turner, president of the Texas Patriots PAC, told Newsmax: "We're just delighted with tonight's results. It was huge tea party win."

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

Tea party-backed Republicans won the Lone Star State's top two races on Tuesday.

Two-term state Sen. Dan Patrick trounced incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — denying him a fourth term — while state Sen. Ken Paxton defeated state Rep. Dan Branch in the attorney general's contest.

With 60 percent of the vote counted, Patrick had 65 percent to Dewhurst's 35 percent. Paxton received 64 percent of the vote to Branch's 36 percent.

The win by Patrick, who will face Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in November, ended one of the most acrimonious nominating contests in recent Texas history. Accusations grew nastier by the day heading into Tuesday's runoff.

He finished the March primary with 41 percent of the vote versus Dewhurst's 28 percent.

In the fall, Paxton will challenge Democratic lawyer Sam Houston for the seat vacated by Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott.

"What you see is the messaging from two strong conservatives, with strong voting records over a number of years," said Turner, whose PAC supported both Patrick and Paxton. "They didn't come to their philosophies or values last night."

Based just outside Houston, the Texas Patriots gained visibility in November 2011 when they hosted a debate between Republican presidential candidates Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. The debate was conducted Lincoln-Douglas-style.

The group also supported Sen. Ted Cruz, who bested Dewhurst in a 2012 Senate race.

"They have held these values, and they are able to articulate their values to the majority of Texans," Turner told Newsmax. "That's what makes a good candidate."

The lieutenant governor's race was particularly rancorous. Dewhurst, 68, struggled throughout to gain ground on Patrick, 64, the Houston conservative radio talk-radio host and founder of the Texas Legislature's tea party caucus.

Patrick had criticized Dewhurst, who presided over the state Senate, for not preventing Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis' filibuster of a 2013 measure to restrict abortion, which drew national attention and launched her gubernatorial run.

The campaign got another jolt when Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who finished fourth in the March primary, endorsed Dewhurst and leaked hundreds of pages of Patrick's psychiatric records from the 1980s.

The records indicated Patrick had a history of depression and suicidal tendencies, but he said he had fully recovered and was fit to serve. Dewhurst had denounced the release of the records.

Patrick's crushing defeat effectively ended the political career of Dewhurst, who spent $5 million of his money in the race. The Houston businessman put up $20 million in his losing bid against Cruz.

"Some of the accusations leveled at Sen. Patrick were laughable," Turner told Newsmax. "Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has now lost statewide several times, and that campaign just became desperate."

She doubted whether any of the personal issues underscored during the runoff would sway voters come November.

"The acrimony was between the campaigns — not among Texans and not among Republicans," Turner said.

"Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton have to now communicate with additional voters — and that core conservative message about choice, less government, less regulation, more freedom, that's going to resonate with the other side of the ticket as well."

Schoen was even more realistic looking to the fall elections.

"Democrats haven't won a statewide election in Texas in I don't know how long," he told Newsmax. "I would think that the Republicans, particularly with Abbott at the head of the ticket, would be strong favorites in every race."

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

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