Tea Party in Texas Sees Silver Linings in G.O.P. Primaries

by
March 7, 2014

McALLEN, Tex. — There was no Ted Cruz, coming out of nowhere in a blaze of Tea Party fervor, to upend the establishment in a marquee race when Texas Republicans went to the polls Tuesday in the nation’s first round of 2014 primaries.

But even if Republican stalwarts in Congress like Senator John Cornyn and Representative Pete Sessions routed insurgent challengers, the story of the Texas primaries was that anyone thinking the Tea Party had run its course should think again.

While establishment candidates in some of the top races were successful, Texas Republicans continued to tilt ever further right. In the night’s most competitive race, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst won only 28 percent of the vote in his re-election bid to get into a runoff with a conservative talk radio host, State Senator Dan Patrick, who earned 41 percent of the vote.

Around the nation, there appear to be fewer credible Tea Party challenges for top races in Congress than two years ago. A challenge to Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi may be the most prominent. But before Mr. Cochran’s June primary, the Tea Party-vs.-establishment struggle will play out in a series of races this spring, including Republican primaries for Senate seats in Georgia, Nebraska and North Carolina and an increasingly expensive House race in Idaho featuring a sitting Republican who has drawn the wrath of many conservative groups but is being aided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These elections, all set for May, will offer a better indication of the party’s direction.

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