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.
What caught my eye was the fact that even Texas is beginning to reject the Tea Party. It was also good to see someone Palin supported lose their primary.
Another bush – hope he's not like his idiot uncle W
Texas' primary,... this will be an interesting cycle. Especially if Mr. Abbott continues to have Ted Nugent campaigning for him. Lets see if the name calling has really stopped. Having seen Mr. Nugent in action this should be an election cycle is worth a good look.
What's new? Delusional tea potty wingnuts bite the dust AGAIN. November comes quickly.
Looks like all the conservative tea poopers are losing..who would have thunk it. ;)
Nice to see the Tea Party getting its hinder handed to it.
Well, so much for 'cleaning house' in Washington D.C.
The Teaparty SLUGS demise is clear. If they can't win in the state of Texas , they CANT WIN ANYWHERE!!!! Blame Cruz and Rubio and lee radal king of the hick state of Iowa, yaho of Florida and the rest of the GOP EXTREMEST
The koch brothers are using their money at the state level and even district level. The cancer grows from within and this is what they are doing. Start small then up and up all the way to the White House.
Great, another shrub.
Bush. Another George Bush.
Dear Lord, please protect us from the mentally challenged morons of the Texas Republican party. They know not what they do.
It is obvious they are grooming him to run for president in a decade or so and think they will win the Hispanic vote. He is not getting my vote.
Please keep Bush in Texas.
Hopefully Mz. Davis will win and return SANITY to Texas . Racism , Bigotry , Lying , Cheating are all
the norm in Texas ever since the republicans took over . They have no honor and depend on tricking
the people of Texas out of their votes thru gerrymandering . The far right are actually lying and in turn
putting their citizens in danger by keeping them from Affordable Healthcare . Even Christie said that
affordable healthcare is good . But Racism runs deep in the small minds of the far right and killing the old
and small and crippled and sick is the tea party´s version of Healthcare .
Texas ranks among the richest states in the union with their dirty oil. and on the other hand ranks among the highest in folks living in poverty and people not having healthcare. this third world country mentality the repubs are living in needs to stop. their ideology is that every one should compete to get ahead without government involvement. i watch matches and i dont see a bottom weight fighter fighting a heavy weight fighter, i dont see a high school football team taking on a professional football team. the repubs thinks that every one is on a level field and every one should compete on the same level. they fail to point out that society is not equal or on a playing level, and sometimes government have to intercede to help those match up to the more fortunate to compete, not to rely on but to level the field a little bit. but if it was up to the repubs they would drown this help in a bathtub. mind you that competition is good, but most folks need to know that a goal is achievable, for them to go get it. this is why you dont see everyone trying to be a doctor or a NBA player. give average american hope that they can achieve their gold and you will see more folks risking the ordeal to get what they want.
Well – what did we expect from Texas? Another Bush – isn't that special?
Texas is a lost cause. The GOP will always win there, no matter how many people vote for the Democrats. They've drawn the districts in ways that will ensure that they never lose. Dallas oil runs that state and the rest of them are doomed.
Who says you can't fool all the Texans all the time!
Let's end these political family dynasties – all of them – it always ends poorly for the people.
Interesting that the radical TEA Party types were beat back in the Cornyn and Session primaries. Not that those dudes aren't wacky-Right enough on their own, but perhaps we are beginning to see the outer edge of how far right the TEA Party can go before they hammered by the GP and it's voters. The GOP wants wins, and perhaps they have started to figure out that the current craziness won't cut it with voters anymore.
The only good thing to come out of Texas is J.R. Ewing. And he's not even real.
Do us all a favor, succeed already.
G. P. Bush...future POTUS.
A few wins for sensible Republicans, and Texas.
The only thing Cruz can do now to maintain 'integrity'
is stay the course and continue not to endorse anyone.