House Incumbent Loses Seat

Rep. Tommy Merrit (left) and his Republican primary challenger David Simpson (right) unexpectedly run into each other as both court Longview's Chick-Fil-A breakfast club.
Rep. Tommy Merrit (left) and his Republican primary challenger David Simpson (right) unexpectedly run into each other as both court Longview's Chick-Fil-A breakfast club.

With all precincts reporting, Rep. Tommy Merritt, R-Longview, has lost his seat by just over 5 percentage points. 

"I just got caught up in the business of 'let's get rid of the incumbent,'" said Merritt. "...It was a total surprise."

David Simpson, who served as the mayor of Avinger (pop. 464) from 1993 to 1998, says some in the local Tea Parties drafted him to oppose Merritt. He is a devout Christian who has campaigned largely on a platform of 10th Amendment rights and against illegal immigration, and he describes his bid for office as a “mini Scott Brown race.”

"I was asked by the people and it was about the people," said Simpson.

Merritt was one of the 11 “cardinals,” the Republicans who unseated Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, and chose Straus as a replacement. Now he chairs the House Public Safety Committee. He's known for having an independent streak in his voting — and thinking. Probably for that reason, he's drawn opponents in every primary but one since 2000.

Merritt consistently out-raised Simpson. In their eight-day reports Merritt reported almost $41,000, while Simpson raised $19,000.

The race between them has largely been a race of retail Republican politics versus Tea Party conservatism.

"I’m so thankful for the first time in my life the constitution is an issue in politics today," said Simpson. "So this is a victory for the people."

Our full primary results are available on the 2010 elections landing page.

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