Updated 08/06/2012 07:57 AM
On the Agenda: GOP primary runoff ripe with not so obvious subplots
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Politics is rarely what it seems, so let's consider some of the election takeaways below the surface.
Ted Cruz’s stunning victory over Lt. Governor David Dewhurst was wrapped in Tea Party rhetoric and certainly benefited from a network of Tea Party volunteers, but Cruz had virtually no coattails
Tea Party types won a congressional race and a handful of Texas House races, but they were not so significant in most others. Pro-public school groups arguably had a better night down ballot than the Tea Party.
You would not have known it from the runoff, but Texas Republicans are generally pleased with their state government. Unlike Congress, our Legislature has a high approval rating.
Nevertheless, Democrats in the Texas House were decimated in 2010 in an anti-Obama backlash and the Cruz runoff campaign beat Dewhurst based not on his Texas performance but anger at Washington incumbents.
Going into this next legislative session, Governor Perry finds himself having been rejected by voters twice. First in the presidential primaries and second in his full-throated effort for Mr. Dewhurst.
Obviously, Lt. Governor Dewhurst walks into the first day of the legislative session as damaged goods facing a Senate long impatient with his leadership style. It doesn’t help that most Republican Senators were embarrassed by endorsing him.
Only Speaker Joe Straus looks stronger going into the next session. Sure, there will be a lot of ugly things said about him by Tea Party types before he is re-elected as Speaker, but this freshman class includes newbies with a history of actual governing and business leadership in their communities. They are less likely to be bullied by the blogosphere than last session’s freshmen.
Finally, I am betting that Attorney General Greg Abbott runs for Governor whether or not Governor Perry seeks re-election. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and others will run for Lt. Governor whether or not Mr. Dewhurst retires.
The next session of the Legislature will be dominated by positioning for the 2014 primary.
Destabilizing, yes. But what fun!
Texas politics and government are rarely what they seem. Join
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. Kronberg has covered the Capitol for more than 20 years, and he knows where to find the scoop.