Tea Party Tornado Sweeps Texas GOP Primary

Dan PatrickTo paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the Tea Party’s death in Texas are greatly exaggerated. In four Republican primaries, Tea Party-supported candidates all won their respective contests, headlined by the race for Lieutenant Governor.

Challenger Dan Patrick beat well-funded incumbent and energy magnate David Dewhurst for the 2nd highest office in Texas. Dewhurst contributed over $5 million of personal funds to his campaign, and a Dewhurst ally – Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson – released records that showed Patrick had been treated for depression (and allegedly attempted suicide) back in the 1980s.

This wasn’t enough to overcome the strong anti-Establishment sentiment in the Lone Star State. The Houston Chronicle interviewed Robert Wilkerson, a 65-year-old handyman from Aledo (near Ft. Worth) who said he voted for Patrick because Dewhurst had become too “passive.”

“David Dewhurst hasn’t taken control,” Wilkerson said. “He wouldn’t get in the middle of anything, he would just kind of go along with the status quo and I think we need some changes.”

Patrick moves on to the November general election, where he will face Democratic state senator Leticia Van de Putte from San Antonio.

In the GOP primary for state Attorney General, Tea Party-backed Ken Paxton beat Dan Branch, a member of the Texas state House leadership team.

Sid Miller won the Republican race for Agriculture Commissioner over his former legislative colleague Tommy Merritt, whom he accused of being too moderate.

17-term incumbent Ralph Hall was the first incumbent to lose his bid for renomination after he was ousted by former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe in the 4th Congressional District race, 53% to 47% with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

While Tea Party candidates have had limited success in other states this election season, Texas is a very notable exception.

Will this primary be the springboard that propels other Tea Party candidates to success in 2014 and beyond? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.