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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Weak Texas Tea

Texas's most high-profile Tea Party challengers flamed out in Tuesday's primaries, falling far short of their goals to knock off powerful incumbents.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) beat back Rep. Steve Stockman's (R-Texas) quixotic challenge by more than 40 percentage points, while Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) crushed local Tea Party leader Katrina Pierson (R) by a two-to-one margin.
One of their keys to victory — the two influential GOP leaders took their challengers seriously and ran strong campaigns, raised and spent millions and left little ideological room for their challengers to attack them. Cornyn topped $10 million raised and ran hard, bringing in a top ally of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to help run his campaign. Sessions raised and spent $1.5 million for the race.
Cruz, the state's Tea Party hero, stayed neutral in the races and declined to even endorse Cornyn, which frustrated many establishment Republicans.

But both results were as much about weak opponents as impressive incumbents.
Stockman ran one of the most bizarre campaigns in recent memory, announcing his bid against Cornyn just minutes before the filing deadline, raising and spending almost no money and seemingly spending more time tweeting attacks on the senior senator than campaigning in the state. He took a multi-week overseas congressional trip during the short primary season, and made almost no campaign stops around the state.