In Republican House primaries marked by differences between establishment candidates and movement conservatives, both sides came away with some wins on Tuesday.
At least eight incumbents lost their seats: Reps. George Lavender, R-Texarkana; Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving; Lance Gooden, R-Terrell; Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth; Naomi Gonzalez, D-El Paso; Diane Patrick, R-Arlington; Bennett Ratliff, R-Coppell; and Ralph Sheffield, R-Temple. At least seven who faced serious challenges survived: Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson; Myra Crownover, R-Denton; Sarah Davis, R-Houston; Jim Keffer, R-Eastland; J.D. Sheffield, R-Gatesville; Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler; and Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford.
The establishment will boast about Button, Crownover, Davis, Keffer and J.D. Sheffield. The insurgents will brag about Tony Tinderholt, who beat Patrick; Molly White, who beat Ralph Sheffield; about former Rep. Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie, who beat Harper-Brown; about Matt Rinaldi, who beat Ratliff by a 91-vote margin; and about the victories of Schaefer and Stickland against challengers backed by some of the state’s most powerful political action committees.
By way of comparison, voters sent 10 incumbent legislators home in the 2012 primaries, eight in 2010, nine in 2008 and seven in 2006. Those numbers include state senators and state representatives. In Senate races on Tuesday, incumbent Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, won her primary without a runoff; Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, prevailed; and John Carona, R-Dallas, lost a very tight race with challenger Donald Huffines.
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The six-member El Paso delegation will look almost the same in 2015 barring one exception. In one of the closest contests of the primary season, former state Rep. Norma Chávez, D-El Paso, bested incumbent Naomi Gonzalez, by 160 votes according to unofficial results from the El Paso County elections office. Chávez’s apparent second-place finish would put her in a May runoff against newcomer César Blanco. Blanco garnered about 44 percent of the vote.
House Speaker Joe Straus prevailed in his own bid for re-election and did not appear to lose enough supporters in this round of elections to threaten his expected bid for another term as speaker next January.
Stickland had no trouble defending his seat in House District 92. Stickland, who has been ranked the most conservative Texas House member, nabbed nearly two-thirds of the vote against Andy Cargile, a local school board member who failed to muster much financial support.
The race — which occasionally turned testy — was closely watched because it pitted Stickland’s Tea Party Republicans against the party’s establishment, which backed Cargile.
“Voters have sent a clear message to Austin, they want true conservative fighters representing them,” Stickland tweeted Tuesday night.