HOUSTON — Dan Patrick, a Texas state senator who has taken outspoken stands against abortion, same-sex marriage and illegal immigration, won a Republican runoff for lieutenant governor on Tuesday. He defeated David Dewhurst, the longtime incumbent, in a race that illustrated the continuing power of the tea party in Texas.
Patrick, 64, a radio talk show host from Houston who received widespread tea party support, had been expected by many political strategists to defeat Dewhurst. He now faces the Democratic nominee, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, in November. Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature and all statewide elected offices, but a victory in November is not assured for Patrick. His strident tone has drawn a number of detractors within his own party.
Dewhurst, 68, had served as lieutenant governor since 2003 but had never fully recovered from his loss to Ted Cruz in a 2012 runoff for the state's open U.S. Senate seat. Analysts said Dewhurst, a business-friendly Republican, struggled to find his footing as the Texas political landscape shifted from the "compassionate conservative" style of former Gov. George W. Bush to the more ideological and uncompromising approach of Cruz.
Dewhurst went from being viewed as one of the wealthiest and most powerful Republicans to a symbol of the establishment at a time when tea party outsiders turned incumbency into a liability.
In a Texas congressional district, Republican Rep. Ralph Hall, at 91 the oldest member of the House, was beaten by 48-year-old former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe in a runoff. Ratcliffe enjoyed backing from groups with tea party ties.