Tea Party Set for Strong Results in Texas Runoff Elections

Monday, 26 May 2014 09:16 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Establishment Republicans prevailed over tea party candidates in primaries last week, but Texas is one place where the tea party is not losing its stronghold, The New York Times reports.

Tea party candidates had a strong showing in the state's March primaries and look set for further gains in runoff elections on Tuesday, with pundits keeping a close eye on the bitter contest for lieutenant governor. Tea party successes in legislative races could also push the Republican-controlled legislature farther to the right.

Three-term incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has been locked in a grueling 12-week runoff campaign, starting 13 points behind tea party favorite state Sen. Dan Patrick after the first round of voting on March 4. Since then, negative ads and personal attacks have defined the campaign.

After defeating six legislative incumbents in March, tea party candidates appear to have the edge going into Tuesday's contests. The tea party is also running candidates for attorney general, agriculture commissioner, and a position on the energy-regulating Texas Railroad Commission, according to the Times.

"The continuing tea party momentum in Texas runs counter to the theme that emerged from last Tuesday's primary results in six other states, where tea party reversals spawned talk that the nearly five-year-old grassroots movement may have run its course," the Times said.

Specifically, establishment Republicans coasted to victory in Kentucky, Georgia, Oregon, and Idaho, buoying the party's optimism about its chances of defeating Democrats in November and taking back control of the Senate.

Analysts say tea party groups in Texas, however, are tightly organized and highly energetic. They also have the advantage of massive email lists, along with members who are more likely to mobilize and get to the polls, particularly in what will be a low-turnout primary, according to the Times.

"The [March] primary showed that the tea party is the majority of the Republican primary vote," Cal Jillson, a politicalvscience professor at Southern Methodist University, told the Times, predicting that tea party candidates were likely to do well in Tuesday's runoff elections.

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