Texas Senate Shifts Right in Key Races

Texas Senate Shifts Right in Key Races

It was a harrowing night for liberal Republicans in the Texas Senate, with one entrenched senator losing, another heading for a run-off and a third only narrowly winning. Meanwhile, a tea party incumbent handily won reelection.

Freshman State Sen. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels was challenged by two San Antonio establishment Republicans. They ended up splitting 45 percent of the vote, while Campbell cruised into her second term with 55 percent.

The most expensive legislative race in Texas was in Dallas County’s SD16 featuring incumbent John Carona falling to challenger Don Huffines. Carona had been labelled the most liberal member of the senate’s GOP caucus in a non-partisan study, and was strongly supported by liberal-leaning Republicans like State Rep. Jason Villalba. 

According political observer Evan Van Ness in a late-night tweet, “Carona spent about $160 per vote.”

Huffines ran a disciplined campaign, and was able to match Carona’s spending. More importantly, Huffines was able to message Carona’s record to primary voters.

In east Texas, incumbent Sen. Bob Deuell of Greenville appears (at the time of publication) to be headed to a run-off with challenger Bob Hall. Deuell had been opposed by many of the state’s conservative groups, and was poorly regarded by local tea party activists.

Meanwhile, State Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo barely won re-election against a largely unknown challenger, Mike Canon. Seliger had been assumed to have a lock on re-election, but ended up winning by only 4 percent.

The two open-seat races went as predicted. In Harris County’s SD7, Paul Bettencourt won with nearly 90 percent of the vote. In Tarrant County, tea party favorite Konni Burton has a strong lead going into a run-off with former State Rep. Mark Shelton.

Follow Michael Quinn Sullivan on Twitter @MQSullivan