Sen. Dan Patrick, the Senate's most extreme conservative, led balloting for Lieutenant Governor
On Wednesday, The New York Times declared the Republican establishment beat the TEA Party because John Cornyn and Greg Abbott won their primaries. While Greg Abbott, John Cornyn, and George P. Bush cruised past minor league opponents to secure their own nominations, they were the exceptions to the overall trend across Texas. In truth, the most extreme social conservatives, often backed by Michael Quinn Sullivan and Empower Texans, led in their races for statewide office.
The race for Lieutenant Governor had establishment favorite, incumbent David Dewhurst finish in a very distant second place to State Senator Dan Patrick. Sen. Patrick, a conservative talk radio host, has been a constant advocate against most progressive issues but has taken his strongest stances towards privatizing the education system and against immigration and gay rights. Despite pleas from his hometown Houston Chronicle to vote for anyone but Dan Patrick, Patrick led the Republican field with 41.45% of the vote. Dewhurst finished in second with 28.31% of the vote. Also-rans Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples got 17.76% of the vote and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson got 12.47%.
The other major statewide offices, Attorney General, Comptroller, Agriculture Commissioner, and Railroad Commissioner, followed the precedent set by the Lieutenant Governor's race where the most extreme social conservative led in Tuesday night's voting. Click below the jump to see who else is advancing to the May runoff.Attorney General:
State Rep. Dan Branch had a significant lead in fundraising, but when it came to votes, State Sen. Ken Paxton led the field. Paxton, who was endorsed by Sen. Ted Cruz, led the night with 44.44% of the vote to Branch's 33.49%. Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman will not be in the runoff after receiving 22.06%. Branch, an advocate for higher education, may have had the resources and endorsements of most major Texas newspapers, but not the love of the conservative grassroots.
It must be frustrating to be State Sen. Glenn Hegar. At the end of voting, the unofficial tally showed Sen. Hegar about 75 votes short of avoiding a runoff with State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran. The Dallas Morning News was the only major newspaper to back Hegar, joining conservative groups such as the National Rifle Association, Texas Homeschool Coalition, Empower Texans, and Texas Values. Hegar led in fundraising so his lead in balloting should not be a surprise. Hegar is currently finishing with 49.99% of the vote and, unless a recount proves otherwise, will be joined by Hilderbran who got 26.01% of the vote. Conservative activist Debra Medina got 19.30% of the vote and former State Rep. Raul Torres got 4.68% of the vote.
Former State Reps. Tommy Merritt and Sid Miller are heading into the May runoff together. Miller is best known for authoring 2011's forced sonogram bill while Merritt authored legislation to allow students to carry concealed guns on college campuses in 2009. Miller finished in first place with 34.58% of the vote and Merritt got 20.95%. Eric Opiela and J. Allen Carnes who split the newspaper endorsements and ran on issues relating to the position of Agriculture Commissioner failed to advance, receiving 17.39% and 12.44% respectively. “Some dude” Joe Cotton got 14.61%
Leading the race to be the new Railroad Commissioner is former State Rep. Wayne Christian. In campaigning for the right to oversee oil and gas regulation in Texas, Christian has decided to make abortion one on his top priorities. Abortion, of course, is unrelated to the office of Railroad Commissioner. Christian got 42.68% of the vote while energy executive Ryan Sitton received 30.52%. Christian and Sitton had the most money going into this election. Failing to advance are Becky Berger who received 16.82% and Malachi Boyuls who got 9.96% of the vote.
For the statewide courts, luckily, sensibility prevailed with the less-activist candidates winning positions to dispatch justice.
When the Republicans had a choice in the 2014 primary, in most cases, the most extreme social conservative led in Tuesday night's balloting. The question will remain if they continue to lead in May's runoff.