The Brief: Tea Party Ascendant as Curtain Falls on Two Careers
The Big Conversation
The Tea Party demonstrated forcefully its predominant position in Texas GOP politics on a runoff election night that also closed the curtain on a couple of long political careers.
In the runoff race that generated the most heat, state Sen. Dan Patrick trounced incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst by 30 points. It was the second convincing runoff loss to a Tea Party candidate in as many election cycles for Dewhurst, whose tenure as the Senate's presiding officer will end at 12 years. He was land commissioner for four years prior to that.
And in another contest that drew national attention, former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe ended Ralph Hall's congressional career. At 91 years old, Hall was Congress' oldest member. He won more than 45 percent of the vote in the primary election, but early support from Tea Party groups gave Ratcliffe momentum early in the runoff race that he was able to ride to victory.
Tea Party supporters also applauded convincing wins by Ken Paxton for attorney general and a pair of state Senate candidates — Konni Burton, who will try to win the Tarrant County seat currently held by Wendy Davis, and Bob Hall, who ousted incumbent Bob Deuell.
Democrats avoided a major embarrassment with dental clinic magnate David Alameel's convincing win over Kesha Rogers, a Lyndon LaRouche supporter also well known for advocating the impeachment of President Barack Obama. And in perhaps the most unusual storyline from the primary season, political newcomer Jim Hogan captured the Democratic nomination for agriculture commissioner, setting up a general election showdown with former state Rep. Sid Miller.
Democrats also went to work on Tuesday trying to portray the new GOP nominees as too far right to succeed in a general election. In declaring victory, though, Patrick said the momentum rested squarely with the GOP. He promised to take the fight to Democratic strongholds to make the case for his party's ideas.
"This election means we're going into November with a very strong ticket with candidates elected by the most conservative voter base in the nation and a team that can articulate the issues the way Texans want them to be," he said, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. "The Democrats have chosen Battleground Texas, and they've chosen the wrong battleground."
The Day Ahead
• The House Ways and Means Committee meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to discuss the operation of the state event trust fund accounts. (agenda)
• The Texas Ethics Commission has scheduled a 3 p.m. pre-hearing conference in the Capitol Extension in its investigation of Empower Texans and Michael Quinn Sullivan. (agenda)
Today in the Trib
Tea Party Conservatives Win Top GOP Runoff Contests: "After 16 years in statewide office, Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst lost a bitterly fought battle, getting beat by state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston. In the GOP's attorney general race, Ken Paxton prevailed over state Rep. Dan Branch."
Analysis: Conservative Groups Enjoy Runoff Wins: "As Republicans and Democrats finalized their ballots Tuesday for November's general election, the GOP loaded many of its top spots with candidates promoted by the state’s Tea Party and social conservative groups."
Garcia: Runoff confirms that Cruz is the new model for Texas GOP, San Antonio Express-News
Kennedy: For Paxton, general election shines new spotlight on securities violations, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Herman: A good runoff day for Texas Dems, Austin American-Statesman
Former UT board chair criticizes current chair, Legislature, Austin American-Statesman
Tax collection firm may have double-reported payments, Houston Chronicle
Court Extends Curbs on the Death Penalty in a Florida Ruling, The New York Times
Quote to Note
“They say I don’t campaign, but apparently, I did. Almost everybody wrote something about me. ... You don’t raise any money, you leave it to the people, God and everybody else. It didn’t cost anything. I go on with my life.”
— Newly minted Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner Jim Hogan on how he won
Today in TribTalk
Travis County not an ideal venue for Perry, by Mark P. Jones: "Gov. Rick Perry and his legal defense team would be more at peace if the grand jury probing allegations of abuse of power against him had been seated pretty much anywhere else in the state other than Travis County."
Why I'm running for mayor of San Antonio, by Mike Villarreal: "We're a city of humble beginnings, and I want to make sure we're also a city of unlimited possibilities."
Trib Events for the Calendar
• A Conversation With Sen. Glenn Hegar, Candidate for State Comptroller, at the Austin Club, 5/29
• The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin. Tickets are on sale now.