About last night: Texas primary highlights
March 4th, 2014
09:55 PM ET
9 years ago

About last night: Texas primary highlights

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.

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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.

Facing runoffs

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.


Filed under: George P. Bush • Greg Abbott • John Cornyn • Pete Sessions • Texas • Wendy Davis
soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. noteasilyswayed

    Here's wishing Davis good fortune and tactics so that she ends up winning the governorship..... we need common sense in politics; right wing extremists are not interested in helping people; they want to ostracize and punish all who disagree with their political and religious views.

    March 5, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. gkam

    A new pillar being groomed to build the New World Order of Bush/Saud.

    March 5, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Sorry to hear about another Bush winning anything. I'd be happy if Texas succeeded. It is one of the most misogynistic states. Of course, most states led by Republicans seem to be that way.

    March 5, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. MirrorMirror

    Oh well...You know what they say...Every time a BUSH wins...We ALL lose...*smh*...

    March 5, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  5. MidLifeCrisis

    Wendy Davis is a hypocrite...tells people to respect civil rights even if they don't agree with them...then Wendy Davis turns right around and is the biggest bigot of them all towards civil rights of gun owners...because she does not like private gun owners.

    Tell you what Wendy Davis how bout you practice what you preach and treat gun owner civil rights the same way you want people to treat gay rights.

    Not holding my breath and proud to support Greg Abbott. I'll start looking at supporting Democrats once the Dems start treating my civil rights as a gun owner the same as the ones they like.

    March 5, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. Woody's Hay

    Meet the new Bush ... same as the old Bush ...

    March 5, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  7. Bluemacaw

    I currently live in Texas, but am not a native. I am absolutely astounded (even after 10 years) that there are this many ignorant people in this state! How can you possible believe that the GOP and TP are a good idea to have representing you? Thank God for the liberal bastion of Travis County/Austin!
    Brad, Let me explain... this is a PRIMARY. That means the Republicans and Tea Party were running against each other, and Democrats were running against other Democrats. These winners of the primaries did NOT win the various positions for Texas. They have only won the opportunity to be on the ballot for the REAL election in the future. Get it? The Dems could still will every position available, or Independent, etc.

    March 5, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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