Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst's political career may have ended tonight, as the incumbent in the state's powerful second-in-command post lost his primary runoff race to State Sen. Dan Patrick, according to the Associated Press. Although Patrick ran as a Tea Party challenger to Dewhurst, both men are quite politically conservative. Patrick, who led in votes after the first round of primary voting earlier this year, is a talk show host in the state. Dewhurst has been Lieutenant Governor since 2003.
This is actually the second time in two years that Dewhurst (who as the Washington Post notes was once a rising star on the national field) has lost a race to a Tea Party candidate. The first time was in 2012, when Dewhurst ran against and lost a Senate race to none other than Ted Cruz. Earlier, Dewhurst said that his 2014 bid for re-election would be his last. He's right, but likely not for the reasons he hoped. According to the Associated Press, Dewhurst spent $5 million of his own money on his re-election bid. The campaign leading up to today's vote turned bizarre and personal in recent weeks, including an attack ad from the Dewhurst camp featuring Patrick singing a parody of "Let it Go."
Despite, say, the Texas legislature's passage of a restrictive, omnibus anti-abortion bill this year, many of the state's Republicans were targeted by challengers who attempted to run even further to the right, as Patrick did to Dewhurst. In the race for the state's Attorney General spot — incumbent Greg Abbot is running for Governor instead — the Tea Party-backed State Sen. Ken Paxton looked set to win out over State Rep. Dan Branch. Texas voters also picked a Tea Party challenger, John Ratcliffe, over the oldest sitting member of Congress: 91-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall.
Although, as the Dallas Morning News pointed out, Texas is ranked 47th in per capita spending and 48th in taxation compared to every other state, many of the Tea Party candidates ran on the platform that spending was out of control thanks to "establishment" Republicans, and promised substantial cuts to spending. The Morning News summed up the state's Tea Party position as, essentially, "to shut down the border, to stop or even impeach President Barack Obama and to fight for gun owners to be able to carry their weapons openly and anywhere." Patrick, for example, repeatedly referred to undocumented immigration as an "illegal invasion," angering many Latino political leaders in the state. In case you still think the Morning News's description is a bit much, Patrick's first campaign ad tagline was simply, "Secure the border, fight Obama."
Patrick will now go up against Democratic State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in the November general elections. Like virtually every Republican running for statewide office in Texas, Patrick is heavily favored to win.