Tea Party's hold on Texas proves powerful in primaries - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Tea Party's hold on Texas proves powerful in primaries

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Results from Tuesday's Texas Republican primary elections show the Tea Party's influence is growing in the state.

For example, there was a surprise upset when incumbent state Sen. John Carona was defeated by challenger Don Huffines. More than 50,000 votes were cast, and Carona lost by just 635 votes.

It was of the most expensive state senate races in history, and Carona says he will not ask for a recount.

Many establishment candidates are either out or will be in a tough Texas Tea Party run-off election, and the GOP standards seem to be moving further right.

"The takeaway is that the establishment needs to really, really be afraid," said Dallas Tea Party leader Ken Emanuelson -- afraid of the tea that Republican primary voters drank.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst ran second to Houston Tea Party man Dan Patrick.                            

"For Republican primary voters, they are looking much more to where the Tea Party and grassroots conservatives are putting their support, and they're the new kids on the block, but they're getting a lot more traction," said Emanuelson.

Incumbent establishment GOP State Rep. Dan Branch trailed Tea Partier Ken Paxton as they now head to a run-off for attorney general.

"I think the Tea Party people have the advantage going into this run-off," said SMU political science professor Cal Jilson.

"The question long term is, what does that do for moderates?" he said. "When do moderates look at the Republican Party and say, ‘I don't recognize myself over there,' and have to look at the Democrats?"

Dallas County Republican Party chair Wade Emmert agrees with Jilson, acknowledging establishment Republicans have lost ground with Republican primary voters.

"I will say that it gives Democrats a large opening, you know, if everybody's over here to the right, there's a lot of field that they can, you know, stake their claim on."

But Emmert is finding a positive way to stir the tea.

"I think what we saw across the state and in Dallas County is another turn to the right; a continual movement more conservative, more conservative," said Emmert. "That's not necessarily a bad thing."

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