Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who initially planned to stay away from endorsements in Republican primaries, said Tuesday he is backing state Rep. Bryan Hughes of Mineola in the Republican primary race to replace state Sen. Kevin Eltife of Tyler.

Hughes is running against state Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, and other candidates are talking about joining the race in Senate District 1 in northeast Texas.

Patrick had already agreed to headline a couple of fundraisers for Hughes in Tyler and Austin. And last week, while endorsing a half-dozen incumbent Republicans for reelection, he said he had not ruled out taking sides in contested open primaries like this one.

“Bryan has earned the respect and admiration of conservatives all across Texas for his work in the Texas House,” Patrick said in his endorsement. “He is just the sort of leader we need to join our tremendous conservative team in the Texas Senate.”

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Days after the legislative session ended in June, Patrick said he would stay out of contested legislative primaries. Last Friday, he reversed course, saying he would endorse the six incumbent Republicans up for reelection and leaving open the possibility of more endorsements like Tuesday’s.

Another Republican incumbent, Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay, decided not to seek reelection in Senate District 24; his announcement has triggered interest from several potential candidates from Belton to Abilene. Patrick has not weighed in there.

Patrick said last week he will stay out of two kinds of primary races — those on the Democratic side and those involving members of the Texas House.  

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