The establishment within both major parties were shaken in Texas yesterday by a pair of surprising primary results -- a multi-term incumbent Democratic congressman was beaten by a city council reformer, while a GOP favorite for Senate will be forced to runoff against a Tea Party darling.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst failed to clinch a majority for the Senate seat of outgoing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. He will be forced to face Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz in a runoff election in nine weeks. Meanwhile, 16-year incumbent Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes was beaten by former city council member Robert "Beto" O'Rourke in the 16th Congressional District Democratic primary.
Although both races were closely followed by Texas politics insiders, both final outcomes were a surprise to pundits. Reyes was endorsed by President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton and Dewhurst is a longtime favorite of Gov. Rick Perry. Polls taken this past weekend also showed Dewhurst with a strong 59-34 lead over Cruz.
"Can you all just confirm for me that this is really happening?" O'Rourke asked supporters Tuesday night. He won just just 50.5 percent of the votes, barely enough to avoid a runoff. O'Rourke, of Irish descent by a native Spanish speaker, ran on a reform platform, promising easier shipping routes from Mexico into the border state and improved health care for veterans.
Reyes, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, criticized O'Rouke for his support of marijuana legalisation and for running "a nasty, dirty campaign" with the help of $240,000 from super PAC Campaign for Primary Accountability.
Although Dewhurst spent nearly $10 million of his own money on the primary, he failed to win the 50 needed to avoid a runoff, coming in just under that at 46 percent. Cruz, on the other hand, managed 33 percent on mostly grassroots organizing from Club for Growth and Senator Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund.
Cruz, a former Solicitor General, was criticized by Dewhurst for being soft on illegal immigration while Cruz said the GOP was too moderate for the Texas Republican base. Based on the July 31 results, Cruz or Dewhurst will face another runoff winner - between former Rep. Paul Sadler and either retired teacher Grady Yarbrough or disaster assistance worker Addie Allen.
O'Rourke will face Republican candidate and small business owner Barbara Carrasco in the Texas 16th congressional district general election in November.
by RTT Staff Writer
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