The Tea Party in Texas has evolved. We can cite the fact that Sen. John Cornyn won his reelection as evidence that the establishment beating the Tea Party, but this would be misleading. An insightful observation:
While some would like to frame Texas’s Tea Party as a group that supports any bid to unseat an establishment candidate regardless of the cost, the primary indicates that this isn’t the case. The Tea Party had the good sense to stay out of the Stockman race… [which] shows a political sophistication not commonly associated with the Tea Party.
The most interesting race of the 2014 cycle is the contest for lieutenant governor. This position oversees the State Senate, and is the most important legislative position in Texas. David Dewhurst has held the office for 10 years and was considered an invincible force in Texas politics until his Senate primary loss to Ted Cruz in 2012.
The question going into last Tuesday’s election was whether Dewhurst would be able to garner enough establishment support to avoid a runoff against State Sen. Dan Patrick. Patrick has conservative credentials and a rabid Tea Party base. He’s essentially a less articulate version of Sen. Ted Cruz.
Sen. Patrick’s focus has always been immigration. He talks tough and doesn’t even veil his racial barbing. This has led to some Twitter smack talk between the senator and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro:
The two rivals have jawed about a debate in San Antonio for more than a month, including a Patrick campaign video filmed in front of the Alamo, but have not agreed upon a date. Patrick wanted to debate before the primary but Castro, not wanting to provide a platform for the Republican during a heated race, pressed to wait until after Tuesday’s election.
The debate will be a sight to see. Sen. Patrick almost beat the Lieutenant Governor outright last Tuesday and his lead looks “unsurmountable”. For decades, a statewide Republican primary win translates to a blowout in the general election. But could a Patrick candidacy end the Republican Party’s impressive winning streak? Democrats aren’t hallucinating when they see a window.
A series of high-profile Republicans have announced their support of Democratic nominee State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and her profile outshines gubernatorial candidate Sen. Wendy Davis’s in terms of Democratic general election competitiveness:
Van de Putte’s business history (running a West Side pharmacy), her advocacy for military families, and her ability to connect with South Texas Latinos will present any of her general-election foes with a set of challenges the GOP hasn’t faced in any recent statewide races.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that Sen. Van de Putte has a shot if Patrick the runoff, which would lead to Texas’s first divided government in a generation, as Davis will almost certainly lose to Republican Greg Abbott. Republican Governor George W. Bush and Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock governed Texas well in the 1990s. They didn’t launch arrows across the aisle because it wasn’t a feasible option. They had to talk.
Maybe a Patrick win in May is just what the doctor ordered for Texas.