GOP state Sen. Craig Estes ousted; Sen. Bob Hall defeats Burkett

State Rep. Pat Fallon beat state Sen. Craig Estes for a seat in the Legislature's upper chamber, while state Sen. Bob Hall held off state Rep. Cindy Burkett. Meanwhile, Angela Paxton won Texas' most expensive state Senate primary.

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ALLEN — Two Republican state senators challenged by members of the Texas House had different fates Tuesday — one lost his seat, while the other clinched his party’s nomination for another term.

State Rep. Pat Fallon thumped state Sen. Craig Estes for Senate District 30, which covers a wide swath of north Texas. State Sen. Bob Hall successfully fought off state Rep. Cindy Burkett in their race for his Senate District 2 seat.

“The incumbents themselves will understand that if they don’t work for the people, they can be recalled by those very same people," Fallon told The Texas Tribune late Tuesday. "And that I think will give us better government.”

Meanwhile, Republican Angela Paxton beat Phillip Huffines in the race for the open Texas Senate District 8 seat, which quickly became the most expensive primary for a state office this year.

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The three Senate races were among a number of closely watched contests that highlighted divisions within the state's dominant party.

The results Tuesday showed that GOP voters in the districts largely support the same candidates as Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who endorsed Hall and Paxton and provided some campaign help for one of Estes’ challengers.

Senate District 2

After initially trailing Burkett, Hall pulled ahead late Tuesday and eventually clinched the nomination with about 53 percent of the vote.

Burkett, a 59-year-old real estate agent, has been a member of the lower chamber since 2010 and currently chairs the House Redistricting Committee. Hall, a 75-year-old businessman backed by the Tea Party, won the seat in 2014 after beating incumbent Bob Deuell. Burkett was once an aide to Deuell.


Hall could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

He will face Democrat Kendall Scudder in November to compete for the district that covers part of eastern Dallas County and a large portion of East Texas, including Greenville and Sulphur Springs.

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Senate District 8

Paxton beat Huffines for the Republican nomination to a Texas Senate seat representing Dallas’ northern suburbs in what is the most expensive primary for state office on the ballot. It’s also been one of the nastiest races, pitting two well-known conservative families against each other.

But at her victory party late Tuesday, Paxton said Huffines vowed to work with her to ensure Democrats don’t take the district in this fall’s general election.

“Let’s move on to November, and let’s win,” Paxton said to cheering supporters.

She will be a heavy favorite against likely Democratic nominee Mark Phariss. Republican state Sen. Van Taylor, who is vacating the seat to run for retiring U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson's place, beat two GOP opponents for that seat Tuesday night.


Paxton, a 54-year-old former guidance counselor, is the wife of Attorney General Ken Paxton. Huffines, a 59-year-old real estate developer, is the twin brother of state Sen. Don Huffines. Neither candidate’s conservative credentials were in doubt, so the race divided some of the most powerful Republican players in Texas. 

The two are expected to have spent a combined $10 million, which would make theirs the most expensive Texas Senate primary in history. 

On the campaign trail, Phillip Huffines touted his family’s business experience in booming Collin County. The Huffines family is well-known for its car dealerships and real estate developments. Angela Paxton, meanwhile, argued that constituents deserve a state senator with deeper roots in the county. 

"That's a real asset when you step into a role like this," she said.

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Senate District 30

Meanwhile, Fallon easily beat incumbent Estes for the Republican nomination to Senate District 30, which includes parts of Tarrant, Denton and Collin counties. Estes was not immediately available for comment late Tuesday.

Fallon credited what he called a landslide victory — 62 percent of the vote to Estes' 23 percent, with Craig Carter taking the remainder — to his staff and an army of volunteers. "We pretty much worked nearly 300 days in a row," he said.


Patrick spent $17,000 to conduct polling for Fallon in the race, a move that incumbent Estes said was “nothing more than a bribe to hire a yes man in the Texas Senate.” But on the campaign trail, Fallon said local officials repeatedly told him that Estes was largely absent.

Estes, a 17-year incumbent of the upper chamber, had won the GOP nomination by double digit margins over the past decade.

Fallon, a 50-year-old business owner, boasted endorsements from more than two dozen fellow state representatives. Estes, a 64-year-old business owner, last year announced that he had the support of a handful of state representatives from across his district, but at least two later decided to remain neutral after Fallon entered the race.

Carter, who oversaw the revitalization of an abandoned factory building in Nocona, was dramatically outraised by Fallon and Estes. Fallon is expected to easily beat Democratic nominee Kevin Lopez in November.

Senate District 10

In a Democratic primary race in which the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders divide lingered, Beverly Powell defeated Allison Campolo and will face incumbent Republican state Sen. Konni Burton in November. Powell told the Tribune late Tuesday that she was "enthusiastically looking forward to the general election."


Burton, of Colleyville, wasted no time in sending a charged email criticizing her new opponent on a variety of issues.

"My Democrat opponent has already been endorsed by [former state Sen.] Wendy Davis, who is most well-known these days for marching with a hat in the shape of female genitalia upon her head," Burton said in a press release. "I will be reaching out to my Democrat opponent in the coming days and weeks to define the terms for future debates."

Senate Districts 17 and 31

Republican incumbents in two other Senate districts — Joan Huffman of Houston [17th] and Kel Seliger of Amarillo [31st] —  both won their primaries.