Campaign Crawlers

A Solid Republican Night

Texas primary yields maybe one surprise—and a Bush.

By 3.5.14

Greg Abbott, GOP gubernatorial primary winner
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No, Republican voters didn’t go nuts in Texas, stampeding in every direction, trampling abortionists, illegal immigrants, and gun-control advocates — as Democrats had hoped might be the case.

A total absence of certified crazies with tinfoil hats — at least on the Republican/Tea Party side — is to be noted as Texas finishes counting votes from the nation’s first primary on March 3.

Such temptations as arose among Republicans — chiefly to endorse Congressman Steve Stockman’s bid to knock off John Cornyn, the U.S. Senate’s No. 2 Republican — were easily squelched. Cornyn won hands down. So did Attorney General Greg Abbott in the contest to succeed Rick Perry as governor. Abbott triumphed over a field of non-entities, one of whom had tantalizingly changed his Christian name to “Secede.” Abbott this November will wallop — in gentlemanly fashion — the celebrated Wendy Davis, in whom Democrats at both the state and local levels have reposed touching hopes for rebuilding Democratic eminence in Texas. (No Democrat has won statewide office in Texas since 1994, and Republicans control the Legislature.)

Overall the Tea Party was well behaved: assertive and principled without indicting establishment Republicans for treason. Democrats this fall won’t have many fetching targets on whom to train their guns. (Texas Democrats want it known they doggone sure do own guns, just like Republicans). Sen. Ted Cruz thought better, apparently, of seeming to want to take over a state party apparatus to which he is a newcomer. He wasn’t much to be seen, far less heard. He neither endorsed nor opposed Cornyn, his senior colleague in the Senate. He spoke generously of particular office-seekers without dissing their opponents.

Tea Partiers scored best in the lieutenant governor’s race, with brash State Sen. Dan Patrick leading incumbent David Dewhurst into the May 27 runoff. Patrick, if elected, will run the Senate like a Marine platoon, his biggest problem being a taste for bayonet charges. This proclivity could exceed the taste of less strident — I hate the use the word, but it applies — Republican senators. At one point, Patrick decried the alleged “invasion” of the state by border-crossing job seekers.

Dewhurst may very well lose the primary. He seems a little played out since his trouncing last year by Cruz in the race for the U.S. Senate.

Congressman Pete Sessions, a member of the House leadership, faced a young and somewhat fey Tea Partier named Katrina Pierson, who enjoyed Michelle Malkin’s imprimatur — for all the good it did. Sessions on primary night was dispatching her by a margin of 2 to 1.

And then there’s George P. Bush, son of Jeb, who handily won the primary for land commissioner, despite raging apathy toward him on the part of many conservatives. You probably wonder what a land commissioner does. He presides over the General Land Office, which manages 19.9 million acres of land and minerals owned by various state agencies. The job might seem an odd one for an ambitious scion of the Bush clan; it could provide GPB cover to work his way up the ladder without offending vast numbers of Texans.

One thing Bush has unmistakably going for him besides name: Hispanic credentials, inherited from his mother. He argues convincingly the need to incorporate Hispanics into Republican ranks before whites become a voting minority in Texas. Which prospect certainly gladdens Wendy Davis’s heart. Not this year, though, Wendy.

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About the Author

William Murchison is a Dallas-based columnist for Creators Syndicate. His latest book is The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson.