updated Wednesday at 8:45 am ET
(CNN) – The Lone Star state held its primary contests Tuesday, kicking off the 2014 election season with two top Republicans guarding their seats in Congress against conservative challengers and gubernatorial candidates Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott ready to square off in November.
Texas voters also boosted another Bush’s quest for statewide office.
Here are some of the highlights from the Texas primary races.
Cornyn, Sessions beat conservative challengers
The No. 2 ranking Republican in the Senate, John Cornyn, easily won his primary, grabbing nearly 62% of the vote, according to the tally of the Texas Secretary of State's office. That's well over the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff, which is required by Texas law if no candidate receives a majority.
Cornyn faced several challengers, namely controversial conservative Rep. Steve Stockman, who launched a last-minute bid in December. Cornyn is one of 12 Republican senators running for re-election this year, half whom will face conservative primary challenges.
Pete Sessions, a nine-term congressman who represents Texas' solidly Republican 32nd district around northern Dallas, also sailed through Tuesday's primary, grabbing more than two-thirds of the vote to bea tea party challenger Katrina Pierson.
Pierson lagged far behind in fund-raising despite gaining support from three powerful national tea party-aligned groups and backing from conservative firebrands former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Sessions, the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, was one of eight GOP House leaders or committee chiefs nationwide who face primary challenges this year.
Abbott, Davis to face off in gubernatorial race
As expected, likely nominees Republican Greg Abbott, who is state attorney general, and Democrat Wendy Davis, a state senator, both overwhelming won their primaries.
They will advance to November's general election to replace Republican Gov. Rick Perry. The longtime governor, in office since December 2000, decided against running for re-election, and instead may make a second bid for the White House in 2016.
Democrats haven’t won the governor’s office in Texas in more than two decades, but the party is hoping Davis' star power, gained largely from her filibuster of an abortion bill last year, is enough to pull the historically red state into the blue.
The race is already one of the most expensive -if not the most expensive - gubernatorial contests in the country. Abbott's campaign reported having nearly $30 million cash on hand last week, while Davis' team reported having $11.3 million. Davis, however, raised slightly more than Abbott in the reporting period from January 24 to February 22.
Bush advances in race for land commissioner
George P. Bush grabbed three-quarters of the GOP vote in beating conservative David Watts in the primary for Texas land commissioner, marking Bush's first big contest as he launches what many political observers expect to be a must-watch career in politics.
Bush, who was considered the favorite going in to the primary and is favored to win in November, is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush.
At the age of 90, Republican Rep. Ralph Hall is the oldest member of the U.S. House. Hall, who's running for an 18th term in Congress, grabbed 46% of the vote against five primary challengers. He'll face former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe, who came in second. Ratcliff, 48, has made Hall's age an issue in the race.
GOP Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is also headed to a runoff. Dewhurst, who was defeated by now Sen. Ted Cruz in a 2012 runoff for the Republican Senate nomination, won 27% of the vote Tuesday, coming in second in a field of four. He'll face off against state Sen. Dan Patrick, who grabbed 44% of the primary vote.
Tea Party influence
Tuesday's primary was the first in the Lone Star State since Cruz's U.S. Senate victory two years ago, thanks in part to strong support from tea party and other grassroots conservative activists.
While Cornyn and Sessions easily beat back conservative challengers, other more establishment lawmakers were forced into May runoffs by challengers backed by Cruz.
Amy Kremer, head of the Tea Party Express, one of the leading national tea party groups, told CNN that while she's disappointed that the candidate they backed, Pierson, came up short against Sessions, but said "I am proud that we had one of our own step up and take on an entrenched establishment candidate."
"The big takeaway from last night is that the tea party movement is alive and well in the state of Texas. Tea Party candidates won big on the local and state level, and while the tea party lost one congressional race, there was no serious primary challenge in the Senate race. Also, Ted Cruz endorsed 5 candidates, with 4 of them winning and one heavily favored in a runoff. With that, Texas didn't let us down!" Kremer added.