Texas Primary Shows Tea Party’s Limits

Pete Sessions and John Cornyn walk away unscathed from Texas primary showdown.

George P. Bush makes a campaign stop in El Paso, Texas, on Monday, March 3, 2014.

George P. Bush, the nephew of former President George W. Bush, secured the Republican land commissioner nomination in Texas on Tuesday.

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It’s no surprise Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis emerged as the clear victors from their respective gubernatorial primaries on Tuesday. And voters likely were not shocked to see incumbent Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, beat Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, in the Senate primary. Stockman had skipped campaigning and went missing during the race, but that doesn’t mean there were not some shocks on primary day in the Lone Star State.

[READ: In Texas, a Primary Contest That Never Was]

Here are some of the biggest moments from the Texas primary.

Another election, another Bush in office in Texas: 

George P. Bush managed to knock off his conservative and poorly funded challenger David Watts to win the Republican nomination for Texas land commissioner. It’s just a preliminary step in what many expect to be a much lengthier career in politics–the family business– for the 37-year-old lawyer. George P. Bush is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush. George P. Bush’s win all but guarantees him the job as land commissioner, a powerful position in the state. He is the favored candidate to win the general election this fall. During his campaign George P. Bush emerged as a clear front-runner as he used a deep war chest to travel the state including many heavily Hispanic areas along the border.  George P. Bush, whose mother was born in Mexico, previewed the ways he might be able to court Latino voters for the GOP during his acceptance speech when he spoke in both English and Spanish to a crowd of supporters.

Race between Rep. Ralph Hall and John Ratcliffe shows lawmakers are never too old for a runoff:

World War II veteran and 90-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall, the oldest member of Congress, couldn’t avoid another showdown against former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe. Hall failed to win 50 percent of the vote Tuesday night, forcing him into a May runoff against his challenger.

Ratcliffe has made his campaign about showing how Hall has been in Washington too long. If elected, Ratcliffe has promised to introduce a constitutional amendment to invoke term limits. Hall, who has not faced such a competitive race before, is seeking his 18th and final term in Congress.

The tea party struggled to gain ground:

After Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, defeated the establishment’s preferred candidate Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the GOP nomination to the U.S. Senate in 2012, it looked as though Texas was moving further to the right and tea party challengers could take down establishment candidates in a flash. Tuesday’s primary, however, showed a brief respite in that trend. Stockman, who had his own set of issues on the campaign trail and was actually disavowed by tea party groups, wasn’t the only ultra-conservative candidate to fumble. Katrina Pierson, a Dallas tea party leader, also saw her Republican primary campaign against Rep. Pete Sessions go up in smoke despite her high-profile endorsements from leaders like Sarah Palin and D.C.-based tea party group FreedomWorks. But both Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, and Sessions, who previously led the National Republican Congressional Committee, proved to themselves and the tea party that sometimes Washington connections are just too strong to defeat.