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A Night of Insurgents & Upsets in the Texas Primary Runoff

BY Sherri Greenberg, Director of the LBJ School's Center for Politics and Governance

It was a night of insurgents and upsets. At the top of the ballot, Ted Cruz, former Texas solicitor general, rode his wave of enthusiasm to victory last night, defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate. The Cruz victory grabbed headlines nationwide as a decisive Tea Party victory in the second most populous state in the country. Cruz will face the winner of the Democratic runoff, Paul Sadler, in November, but in this red state, Cruz is the presumptive favorite.

Elsewhere, on the ballot and around the state, incumbent Republicans fell to challengers from the new conservative wing of the Republican Party of Texas. In San Antonio, Tea Party candidate Donna Campbell defeated longtime State Senator Jeff Wentworth.

In the Texas House of Representatives, several incumbent Republican House Committee chairmen went down. The Texas House of Representatives will have a large group of new members starting the January legislative session.

What do all of these upsets mean for political careers? What will David Dewhurst do in the future? How will current statewide Republican officeholders who want to move up the political ladder react? Given that Republicans have held all of the statewide elected offices for over a decade, there is a logjam in the Republican Party of Texas.

What do all of these upsets mean for governing? Does the Ted Cruz win help Texas Senator John Cornyn in his quest for a leadership position? Cornyn's comments indicate that he is quite pleased with the Cruz victory. Who will fill the vacant committee chairmanships in the Texas House of Representatives, and how will this affect the tone of the upcoming legislative session? Certainly, Texas legislators will be dealing with many challenging issues from the budget to natural resources.

Clues will emerge over the coming months, but all eyes now are turning to Obama and Romney in the home stretch of the presidential race.

Sherri Greenberg, a former Texas State Representative, is a lecturer and the Max Sherman Chair in State and Local Government at the LBJ School. Her current teaching and research interests include: public finance and budgeting; online governance, transparency and civic engagement; campaigns and elections, state and local government; education and housing.

Related:

Tea Party scores win with Cruz victory - Sherri Greenberg - Fox 7, Aug. 1, 2012

Opinion: Tea Party demise greatly exaggerated - Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, CPG Fellow - NBC Latino, Aug. 1, 2012