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Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst Defeated In Primary Runoff

Elephants Fighting

Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who has held that office since 2003, was defeated last night in his re-election bid in a runoff election against Texas State Senator Dan Patrick,who had the support of many on the hard right and in the Tea Party movement:

Texas state Sen. Dan Patrick, a tea party favorite, defeated incumbent GOP Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in Tuesday’s primary runoff — the second straight election cycle in which Dewhurst has been upset in a runoff.

With 23 percent of precincts reporting, Patrick led Dewhurst, 64 percent to 36 percent. The Associated Press called the race with fewer than 10 percent of precincts reporting.

n a state where tea party politics have continued to push politicians increasingly to the right — even as establishment figures have staved off primary challenges elsewhere — Dewhurst’s loss could further embolden the far right in the upcoming legislative session.

The March 4 primary spelled trouble for Dewhurst, who as an incumbent came in second in the primary with 28 percent of the vote, to Patrick’s 41 percent.

This is the second time in two years that Dewhurst has come up short in a Republican Primary in Texas. In 2012, as the favorite of the state party establishment he fell six points short of getting 50% of the vote against former State Solicitor General Ted Cruz in the primary, thus forcing the two candidates into a runoff that Cruz ended up winning by 13 points. Indeed, to some degree, Dewhurt’s defeat this time was likely motivated by that 2012 race in that the Lt. Governer had made himself a Tea Party target way back then with his campaign against Cruz. In any case, though, it seems fairly apparent that Cruz ended up winning the runoff largely for the same reasons that Cruz did two years ago, but getting his base of highly motivated Tea Party voters to the polls in far larger numbers than Dewhurst was able to get his supporters to the poll.

I’ll admit to not having followed these Texas runoff campaigns very closely, but the Lt. Governor’s race stood out largely because of the way in which Patrick pushed the hard right Tea Party line quite aggressively. Given that there was no contest on the Republican side for the Gubernatorial nomination, the Lt. Governor’s race was in many ways a fight for the future of the GOP and, potentially, for the person who would end up as the designated successor to Greg Abbott, the likely winner of the General Election for Governor in November. By picking Patrick over Dewhurst, Texas Republicans seem to be indicating that, at least for now, they want to go with the hard right/Tea Party/social conservative for the future. Whether that works out for them in eight or ten years is another questions.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    Dewhurst was never a very good politician and therefore couldn’t win a primary in Texas where hardly anybody votes. Hell, I forgot to vote yesterday, thinking today was Tuesday. Only the most motivated vote; therefore, we have an ideologue like Patrick running. We’ll see if he can pull off the general election. Leticia Van De Putte is a strong candidate: pharmacist, mother of 6, small business owner, experienced legislator, respected, etc. Only downside is that she is a Democrat.

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  2. @Scott:

    Yea I thought myself yesterday that having a runoff election on the day after Memorial Day was odd

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  3. Scott says:

    It’s worse. We had a runoff two weeks ago for local politicians like councilmen and judges. Why they weren’t on the same day, I can’t figure out. But that’s Texas.

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  4. Dewhurst is a good man who deserved better than defeat by such a huge margin. Unfortunately, he never learned how to run a good campaign. Plus the intrusion of Jerry Patterson – who ran for the office himself this time but lost in the primary – to “help” Dew was a disaster. Low turnout, really bad weather, holiday weekend, etc, all added up to favor the challenger. The Lt Gov job is more powerful than the Governorship in Texas, given the design of our system. For the first time in 12 years, the whole leadership of the state party has changed out and the landscape looks entirely different.

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  5. ebase22 says:

    “hey want to go with the hard right/Tea Party/social conservative for the future.”

    I haven’t followed this at all, but wasn’t Dewhurst last time around basically a Huckabee type who was driven by social issues but was fine with spending? Or at least that was the way he was portrayed?

    If that is true, was Patrick running hard core on social issues then, and was that really the difference between the two?

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  6. CSK says:

    @ebase22:

    From my reading, I gathered that Patrick is a lot more committed to ending abortion (for any reason), ending same-sex marriage, and requiring creationism to be taught in the public schools than Dewhurst, who’s basically a fiscal conservative, ever was.

    All of which shows–if any further evidence were needed–that the Tea Party is really about social issues.

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  7. stonetools says:

    Bottom-line, solid red Texas turned an even deeper shade of red. So much for the “turn Texas blue” crowd. Maybe when this generation dies off….

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  8. wr says:

    @stonetools: “Bottom-line, solid red Texas turned an even deeper shade of red. So much for the “turn Texas blue” crowd. Maybe when this generation dies off….”

    Well, this was a runoff for the Republican nomination. I don’t think anyone is talking about turning Texas Republicans blue…

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  9. Michelle says:

    Patrick is a clown with a megaphone — he owns a radio station and he and his buddies get to hype whatever he does as much as they want.

    Patrick opportunistically “moved” into the senate district he currently holds because he could win an open seat, then systematically took on everything he could in the legislature — abortion, education, etc. and worked to install his buddies in subsequent elections.

    Patrick changed his name to avoid paying his debts and cheated on paying taxes for his employees in his multiple failed business. He’s a scumbag.

    I think Leticia actually has a chance at beating him. From what I hear, her team is ready for him. So stone, don’t give up on us turning Texas at least purple just yet.

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