Editorial: Statewide tea party fervor
File 2012/Staff Photo
Updated: 05 March 2014 02:22 AM
Call it a residual Ted Cruz effect, or simmering tea party fervor in the Texas GOP. But whatever name it goes by, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst got walloped by it — again — in Texas’ Republican primary.
The three-term lieutenant governor was headed to a second-place finish behind fire-breathing state Sen. Dan Patrick in Tuesday’s GOP balloting.
That will send Dewhurst to his second straight runoff in a statewide race. His last one, for the U.S. Senate in 2012, ended in humiliating defeat by the upstart Cruz, who had never been on a ballot before. Dewhurst had been the top vote-getter in that primary.
This time Dewhurst would face another accomplished orator in Patrick, and one who, like Cruz, delights in questioning the lieutenant governor’s conservative credentials.
A runoff would guarantee a furious battle for the hearts of the party’s right flank and a replay of some of the state’s most corrosive political themes.
Two North Texas candidates will square off in a runoff in the attorney general’s contest: tea party favorite Ken Paxton, a state senator from McKinney, vs. Dan Branch, an accomplished state representative from Dallas. Paxton picked up some wind in his sails in the campaign homestretch with ads highlighting Cruz’s positive remarks about his candidacy.
There was a promising outcome in the primary for the 4th Congressional District, where incumbent Ralph Hall was forced into a runoff by former Heath Mayor John Ratcliffe. Hall, 90, is way past his prime, and Ratcliffe can force his long-overdue retirement.
The tea party fervor put longtime state Sen. John Carona of Dallas in jeopardy in Texas Senate District 16. The veteran Senate workhorse was running neck and neck with first-time candidate Don Huffines, who has disappointed us with his sound bite-driven campaign and lack of thoughtful approaches to stubborn state problems.
Another solid Senate incumbent, Bob Deuell of Greenville, appears headed for a runoff in Senate District 2 against challenger Bob Hall, a retiree from Edgewood who is backed by scorecard-driven endorsement groups.
Farther down the ballot, Texas House incumbent Stefani Carter in District 102 appeared headed into a runoff with former Dallas City Council member Linda Koop. It could be that Carter’s inability to shoot straight with voters caught up with her.
Other incumbents felt the tea party effect: Linda Harper-Brown of Irving was struggling against challenger Rodney Anderson in District 105. Ditto for Bennett Ratliff of Coppell against challenger Matt Rinaldi in District 115. Harper-Brown and Ratliff have been among the House’s policy experts. Anderson and Rinaldi were backed by a new political action committee — Accountability First — that supported a slate of candidates willing to sign a small-government pledge.
The Accountability First slate was an effort to elect state lawmakers who would vote to unseat Texas House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio in next year’s Legislature. In one positive outcome on that front, Straus handily beat a challenger in his re-election campaign.