As I previously noted in my Dan Patrick analysis, there were three other Statewide GOP primary runoffs last night. Ken Paxton defeated Dan Branch for Attorney General, Sid Miller defeated Tommy Merritt for Agriculture Commissioner and Ryan Sitton defeated Wayne Christian for Railroad Commissioner. In the former two contests, the clearly denoted “Tea Party” candidate defeated the “Moderate establishment” pick, whereas the latter race was significantly more nuanced. While Christian has a history in public office of using loud and obstreperous right-wing noise to the detriment of actual policy, Sitton also campaigned heavily on right-wing issues. For example, his campaign commercials discussed immigration policy, taking a hard stand on undocumented immigration, despite that it has little to do with the office of Railroad Commissioner, which regulates the oil and gas industries.
Specifically in the Attorney General’s race, Paxton won in yet another blowout, winning almost every county in the State, save a few in the Valley and along the Edwards plateau. The issue with Paxton is a novel one, as he has received no shortage of bad publicity this campaign cycle for some shady dealings. Paul Burka at Texas Monthly lamented Paxton in particular as both a “know-nothing” and someone likely to be convicted of a felony and disbarred. What a wonderful candidate for Attorney General.
As I noted above, Paxton really won big.
When it comes to the Agriculture Commissioner primary, the results were far more evenhanded. Former State Representative Sid Miller (R-Erath County) won with 53%, compared to former State Representative Tommy Merritt’s (R-Gregg County) 47% of the vote.
While, oddly enough, Merritt lost his home country, he largely won the Eastern portion of the State, as well as nearly sweeping the coast and the Valley/borderlands. Additionally, he won a majority of Harris County.
Former State Representative Wayne Christian (R-Shelby County) won his home county, as well as all its neighbors along the Sabine River. Otherwise, he just won a hodgepodge of counties all over, with no real rhyme or reason.
All in all, the Tea Party truly came roaring back to life last night. Forget about being the most experienced, or the most articulate or the most intelligent. Forget about even exerting yourself the most strenuous or trying harder than your opponents. Like Pavlov’s dogs salivating over a bell, the Republican primary runoff’s electorate took the bait on Paxton’s ads and voted for him in droves. Hell and high water could not deter them; alas, nothing could.
It did not matter that Ted Cruz did not actually endorse Ken Paxton, the junior Senator was still featured prominently in Paxton’s ads making conciliatory comments about him. And the droves did not bother to doublecheck to see if their demagogue had actually done what had been claimed of him.
Speaking of fact checking, I wonder how many people actually bothered to go see just how full of lies Ken Paxton’s ads were. One such commercial —you may have seen it— made two patently false statements: “Dan Branch is a union lobbyist” and “Dan Branch voted to expand access to late-term abortions.”
The night is darkest before it is completely black, and the pitch wet another shade darker last night.
UPDATE: If you think I’m being rough, just wait until I do my writeup on the Democratic runoffs.