The message from Texas runoff voters? Out with incumbents.
Though the biggest election news on Tuesday night was former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz’s defeat of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican race for U.S. Senate, there was a jaw-dropping ousting of elected officials up and down the ballot — particularly in the Texas House. From emergency room doctor and political outsider Donna Campbell’s win over state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, to Supreme Court Justice David Medina's upset at the hands of former district court judge John Devine, to the commanding defeats of state Reps. Sid Miller, Chuck Hopson and Jim Landtroop, here’s a look at how the votes fell in key races across the state.
In SD-25, Campbell easily upset Wentworth, R-San Antonio, ending his 20-year career in the Texas Senate. Campbell's rise from underfunded-but-spirited fringe candidate in a three-way primary race to dominant victor in the runoff election surprised many pundits, but not Campbell. "People were tired of politics as usual," she said, "so they came out and voted." Wentworth had a different take. He said voters who are unhappy with politics in Washington "misdirected their fire" at Texas incumbents. "Instead of going after people in Congress, they went after people in Austin," he said. Campbell will face Democrat John Courage in the general election.
The House runoffs were chock full of upsets; just one incumbent held his seat.
In HD-11, challenger Travis Clardy ousted incumbent Hopson. Hopson, who finished 166 votes ahead of Clardy in the May primary, was a Democrat for his first five terms in the House, but switched parties in 2009. In HD-59, physician J.D. Sheffield defeated incumbent Miller, a staunch social conservative who garnered just 180 more votes than Sheffield in the primary. In HD-88, Landtroop lost to business owner and Canadian Independent School District board president Ken King. Both Hopson and Miller are House committee chairmen.
In HD-43, state Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, outlasted another close challenge. Lozano, who switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in March, defeated architect Bill T. Wilson II in the runoff, garnering about 500 more votes than his opponent. Lozano’s work isn’t finished. He faces a formidable general election opponent in former Democratic state Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles, who was first elected in 2004 but lost in 2010.
In CD-25, a district that stretches from Tarrant County south to Hays County, Tea Party favorite Wes Riddle attempted to paint former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams as the establishment candidate. But Williams waltzed to victory. "I never understood what the word establishment meant," said Williams, who had never been on the ballot before. "Evidently it didn’t mean much. And we’re thankful for that." Williams will be the heavy favorite in the general election race against Democrat Elaine Henderson.
State Rep. Marc Veasey defeated attorney and former state Rep. Domingo Garcia in CD-33 in a race that pitted an African-American from Fort Worth against a Hispanic from Dallas. The district spans both cities, and was considered a Hispanic opportunity district. Veasey will face Republican Chuck Bradley and candidates in the Green and Libertarian parties in November.
Pete Gallego, a state representative from Alpine, defeated former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez in the Democratic primary for CD-23. Rodriguez represented the district before losing to Republican Francisco "Quico" Canseco in 2010. Pundits had listed the race as a toss-up, believing that Gallego could draw some independent and conservative voters. Gallego and Canseco will face off in the general election.
In CD-14, former Pearland state Rep. Randy Weber clinched the Republican nomination for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's seat with nearly 63 percent of the vote. Weber and Democrat Nick Lampson will battle for the seat in November.
Republican incumbent Justice David Medina lost his Supreme Court Place 4 re-election bid to former Houston district court Judge John Devine. On the Railroad Commission, Christi Craddick handily defeated state Rep. Warren Chisum in the race for the seat vacated by Elizabeth Ames Jones, a former U.S. and state Senate candidate. Incumbent Barry Smitherman had a big win over his challenger, Comal County Commissioner Greg Parker.
Geraldine "Tincy" Miller easily defeated Gail Spurlock in the State Board of Education District 12 race, giving Miller a good shot at winning back her seat on the board, which she lost in the 2010 primary after 26 years. George Clayton, the current incumbent who lost to both women in the primary, says he wants to wage a write-in campaign to get on the November ballot.