The most hotly contested race in the 2014 Texas Primaries, the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, will need a run-off to determine a winner.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick are the top two finishers and will head to a May 27 runoff.
The Republican hopefuls in the race against incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst included state Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, state Sen. Dan Patrick, and state Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.
Patrick lead 42% to 28% over Dewhurst. Patrick has 344,752 votes while Dewhurst has 228,241.
Dewhurst has spent 11 years in one of the most powerful offices in Texas state government. He is now facing the election of his career against Republican challengers who claim he is not conservative enough.
Speaking from his Houston watch party, Dewhurst encouraged his supporters on the upcoming runoff election. "When May 27th rolls around, we're going to have some real Texas weather again so let's trade back in those umbrellas, scarves and the overcoats for sunscreen because we're starting all over again with a brand new election," said Dewhurst. "I know how to win it and I'm going to win it on May 27th," he said.
A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released last week placed Dewhurst in 1st place with a 37 percent lead. Patrick was in second place with 31 percent.
Dewhurst has said his campaign for the state's No. 2 job will likely will be his last. The multimillionaire businessman has spent more than $25 million of his fortune on his campaigns over the years and said he'll eventually need to return to business to make some of that money back.
Last week, a federal judge struck down the state's ban on gay marriage. All four opponents in the GOP primary said they support keeping marriage between one man and one woman and all criticized the ruling as the work of an activist judge.
As a state senator in 2005, Todd Staples of Palestine authored the state's ban on gay marriage. He recently slammed the judge's ruling, saying it is, "…a poster child for the culture war going in America. I think what this ruling represents is a constitutional crisis," said Staples.
One of the most memorable responses and embarrassing gaffes came from Patrick, who may have tweeted a response too quickly. "MARRIAGE = ONE MAN & ONE MAN," read the viral tweet that was later removed. Another tweet said his campaign was hiring a new social media intern. A corrected tweet read, "I want to re-emphasize my long held position. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Period."
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose running for governor, announced he will appeal the ruling.
A ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is expected before the end of this year.
Patrick, a conservative radio talk show host in Houston, says he's a Christian first and a conservative second. He has waged the loudest campaign with bombastic rhetoric about ending the "invasion" of illegal immigrants from Mexico. But Patrick has been dogged late in the campaign by allegations — raised by State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson's campaign — that he knowingly employed illegal immigrants at Houston-area sports bars he owned in the 1980s, which he denies.
Patterson and Staples have struggled to push their campaigns in front of Dewhurst and Patrick. Patterson says the party needs to be more than the party of "no." He has run on a platform heavy on his record of expanding gun rights. As a state lawmaker in the 1990s, he authored the state's concealed handgun license law.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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