Tea party-backed Republicans sailed to victories in the top two runoff races in Texas on Tuesday, with state Sen. Dan Patrick beating incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Ken Paxton defeating state Rep. Dan Branch in the attorney general's contest.
With more than three-fourths 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.
Fewer than 5 percent of registered voters cast their ballots.
Patrick's victory, which the Associated Press called slightly after 8 p.m. CDT, ended one of the most acrimonious nominating contests in recent Texas history, with accusations growing nastier by the day heading into Tuesday's runoff.
He'll face Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in November.
In the attorney general's race, Paxton's victory puts hi on track to challenge Democratic lawyer Sam Houston in the fall for the seat vacated by Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott.
In both races, the tea party challengers pulled ahead early and remained in front throughout the night. Within an hour of the polls' closing, Patrick was leading Dewhurst by more than 100,000 votes — and Paxton was ahead of Branch by over 60,000 votes.
The lieutenant governor's race
drew national attention, with some observers telling Newsmax that the rift might never heal — giving Van de Putte a chance of winning the No. 2 office in one of the most conservative states in the country.
The lieutenant governor picks committee chairmen in the state Senate.
Dewhurst, 68, who was seeking his fourth term, won only 28 percent of the vote in the March primary. He was beaten by Sen. Ted Cruz in 2012.
The wealthy Houston businessman, who had been in office for 12 years, spent more than $5 million of his own money on the campaign. He was considered more of an establishment Republican who sided with the business community.
Patrick, 64, a state senator and radio commentator — also from Houston — had led the crowded field with 41 percent of the projected vote. He solidified his lead with his strong opposition to illegal immigration and same-sex marriage.
However, Patrick supported Dewhurst over Cruz in the 2012 election.
In the final two weeks of the runoff campaign, the race grew more bitter after Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson leaked medical records revealing Patrick's personal mental health battles 30 years ago.
Patterson finished fourth in the March primary.
According to the records, Patrick attempted suicide in 1986 with an overdose of an anti-depressant and later checked into a private psychiatric hospital to treat severe depression.
The records also revealed that Patrick had another stay in a psychiatric hospital in 1982. A hospital report said he "needed sitters around the clock for being severely depressed."
Dewhurst's campaign denounced the release of the medical records — and Patterson supported the lieutenant governor in the runoff.
Patterson, for his part, said he acquired the records through a lawyer "who does not want to be named" and insisted the data was "not leaked but in the public domain for 25 years."
Patrick responded to the leaks by building support among many of Cruz's key supporters with candor about his shortcomings, The Dallas Morning News
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