In what will be called the Texas Tea Party Primaries, incumbent Republican Ralph Hall, who at 91 was the oldest serving member of the House, was beaten by a youthful Tea Party challenger. Hall, who had spent thirty-four years, or seventeen terms, in the House, lost to forty-eight-year-old former U.S. attorney John Ratcliffe after a runoff.
Ratcliffe was a Tea Party favorite and was endorsed by conservative groups and outlets like the Tea Party Express, Club For Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund, and Erick Erickson’s Red State. Ratcliffe’s press and strategy focused mainly on Hall’s length of service in Congress, while Ratcliffe painted himself as the outsider. In an op-ed originally posted on Brietbart and reposted again on his website, Ratcliffe called Hall a “noble man,” but attacked his many years in the House saying, “Congressman Hall has given lip service to term limits for a long time, but he has never followed through.” Ratcliffe pointed to his willingness to self-impose term limits and his signature of a term limits pledge.
Hall was forced into a runoff after failing to get to the 50 percent mark in the primary election, coming close at 45 percent. According to his website, Hall joined the Navy in 1942 as a lieutenant (senior grade), and after his service in World War II went to Southern Methodist University, where he received his L.L.B. He was first elected to public office in 1949 and served as the county judge in Rockwell County for the next twelve years. Hall eventually ran for Congress and won in 1980 as a Democrat in the Fourth Congressional District where he still serves today. He switched to the Republican Party in 2004.
Michigan Congressman John Dingell is the longest-serving member of the House, having been there continuously since 1955, and the only other World War II vet. With Dingell having announced his retirement earlier this year, Hall’s loss means there will be no more World War II vets in the House. That makes this a historic moment in congressional history.
In another defeat for the establishment last night, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst lost his runoff for reelection. His Tea Party opponent State Senator Dan Patrick soundly beat Dewhurst, who came in second on the first ballot. According to Politico, “With 23 percent of precincts reporting, Patrick led Dewhurst, 64 percent to 36 percent. The Associated Press called the race with fewer than 10 percent of precincts reporting.”
This is the second loss for Dewhurst, following the 2010 election cycle when he famously lost a Senate primary to an upstart Tea Partier by the name of Ted Cruz. Cruz went on to handily win the race for the Senate, and has since become a conservative rock star and a thorn in the side of the Obama administration and Harry Reid’s majority. By losing this election, Dewhurst almost certainly has spent his last influence in the state of Texas.