Cornyn, Sessions roll in Texas GOP primary
It wasn't a surprise, except perhaps the margin of victory. Senator John Cornyn beat back a weak challenge from Rep. Steve Stockman to win the GOP nomination for the Senate. And Rep. Pete Sessions had little trouble brushing aside his Tea Party backed challenger Katrina Pierson to win the primary in the 32nd district..
But perhaps in a sign of things to come, the Tea Party was much more successful in down ballot races in Texas.
Stockman ran one of the most bizarre campaigns in recent memory, announcing his bid against Cornyn just minutes before the filing deadline, raising and spending almost no money and seemingly spending more time tweeting attacks on the senior senator than campaigning in the state. He took a multi-week overseas congressional trip during the short primary season, and made almost no campaign stops around the state.
Cornyn took a few shots at Stockman in his victory speech.
"Texans continue to be practical in their approach — they're looking for solutions, not just speeches," he said.
"Sometimes people will lie about your record. It does happen and not everything on the Internet or on Twitter is factual," he continued.
Stockman tweeted out his resignation and disappointment with the results before the polls were even closed in all parts of the state, a sign of how seriously he took the race.
"With less than 90 days to run and under attack from false ads we weren't able to run like we wanted," he said.
Pierson ran a more serious campaign than Stockman, winning endorsements from FreedomWorks and Tea Party Express as well as from Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) father, Rafael Cruz, and conservative blogger Michelle Malkin. But she failed to articulate a clear message for why the conservative Sessions should be replaced and struggled mightily with fundraising, raising less than $150,000 in the entirety of her campaign.
It wasn't all dim for Tea Party acolytes in Texas. Though their weak playbook against top targets failed, down-ballot conservative challengers were more successful.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R), who Cruz defeated in his Senate primary in 2012, trailed social conservative Dan Patrick (R) by a double-digit margin in his reelection race, and will head to a runoff. The results show that all the money Cruz and his allies spent against Dewhurst badly damaged his reputation in the state — and that the wealthy self-funded wasn't that great a candidate to begin with, part of the reason Cruz won two years ago.
A pair of conservative candidates made the GOP runoff for Texas attorney general.
Texas is such a Republican state that the GOP civil war will hardly effect the outcome in November. But such might not be true in other states where challenges to Washington insiders and other establishment Republicans could make the difference in some contests, handing winnable seats to the Democrats. This, we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, regardless of who wins, the Republican party is being reshaped and what it will look like after November will be interesting to see.