GOP: Right vs. Far Right

Dewhurst heads to a run-off, Romney cinches 64%, and other Republican primary news

District 47 Rep. Paul Workman
District 47 Rep. Paul Workman
Photo by John Anderson

It was the battle of the Establishment vs. the tea party and its corporate backers in the Republican primaries. When the dust cleared, it was unclear who had won.

Local Republicans were closely watching two races, both in Southwest Travis County. First was House District 47, where incumbent Rep. Paul Workman and challenger Ryan Downton had locked into a vicious dogfight over who was the more anti-immigrant. Ultimately Workman smashed Down­ton 2-to-1. The night was not nearly as clear-cut for Sen. Jeff Wentworth: Caught in a three-way race with two ultraconservative favorites – failed congressional candidate Donna Campbell and former Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones – he could only garner 36% of the vote, and now heads into a runoff with Campbell.

The night's big victor, of an anticlimactic sort, was Mitt Romney, who secured his presidential nomination with a 64% share of the Texas primary. However, he was too busy currying favor with Colorado's GOP establishment and dodging questions about Donald Trump's renewed birtherism to make it down to Texas.

The night's big loser was arguably Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, long predicted to be the inevitable successor to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. His establishment position, as well as his ability to loan himself $12 million, should have sealed the deal. Instead, he finds himself in a bitter, unpredictable run-off with former solicitor general Ted Cruz, who had a fraction of Dewhurst's money but a much more active, tea party-fueled ground game.

Statewide, the GOP faced a slew of primary fights spurred by redistricting and often won by the more conservative candidate. Many of the insurgents claimed to be grassroots, but most – including Cruz – had the well-funded Empower Texans in their corner. The conservative think tank, which is closely linked to the hardcore right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (see "ALEC: Daylight on a Fungus," May 4), sank much time and energy into removing House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio. And while they failed to dislodge directly the man they see as their liberal nemesis, they did take out several of his key lieutenants, including House Public Education Chair Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands.

READ MORE
More elections
Point Austin: Mapping Difference
Point Austin: Mapping Difference
Voting picture suggests the next Austin politics

Michael King, Nov. 16, 2012

Point Austin: Elections and Consequences
Point Austin: Elections and Consequences
Politics is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you're gonna get

Michael King, Nov. 9, 2012

More tea party
Letters at 3AM: Where We Actually Live: Part II
Letters at 3AM: Where We Actually Live: Part II
The country the tea partiers want back no longer exists

Michael Ventura, Oct. 22, 2010

More by Richard Whittaker
DVDanger: Fragile Minds
DVDanger: Fragile Minds
Dementia and Remember find terror in age

May 28, 2016

Lee Elementary Still Lee Elementary
Lee Elementary Still Lee Elementary
Campus renaming debate still rumbles on the AISD board

May 26, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

elections, tea party, Ryan Downton, Paul Workman, Jeff Wentworth, Donna Campbell, Elizabeth Ames Jones, Mitt Romney, David Dewhurst, Ted Cruz

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)