Those two races were left undecided after no single candidate
crossed the 50 percent threshold in the March 4 Republican primary,
setting the stage for what has been a bruising run-off election
between establishment candidates and conservative challengers who
have the backing of both the Tea Party movement and its Texas star,
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.
The winner of Tuesday's run-offs will go on to face a Democrat in
the November elections.
In the race for Lieutenant Governor, Tea Party favorite State
Senator Dan Patrick took 41.5 percent of the vote in the
four-candidate March primary, and is favored to win on Tuesday. The
three-term incumbent, David Dewhurst, finished with 28 percent.
The run-off race for state attorney general features a similar
showdown, after Tea Party-backed State Senator Ken Paxton took 44
percent of the primary vote and State Representative Dan Branch won
The current attorney general, Republican Greg Abbott, already has
his party's backing to face Democrat Wendy Davis in the race for
Texas governor in November.
Nationally, the movement for smaller government that takes its name
from the 18th century U.S. revolt against British colonial rule has
seen its strength wane this year. That does not appear to be the
case in Texas.
"Republican politics in Texas has become a race to the right," said
Republican strategist Bill Miller. "I do think the Republican Party
could be eclipsed by the Tea Party here."
[to top of second column]
One exception to the Tea Party's expected dominance on Tuesday could
come in a Dallas-area congressional race. Congressman Ralph Hall, a
91-year-old lawmaker running for an 18th term, is favored over his
Tea Party-backed challenger, John Ratcliffe, a former U.S. Attorney.
Hall, the oldest serving member of the U.S. House, has a host of
conservative backers of his own, including U.S. Representative
Michele Bachman and former Congressman Ron Paul.
While Ratcliffe, 48, has tried to use Hallís age against him, Hall
has embraced it. In a television ad, Hall pointed to a wrinkle and
said he had earned it battling liberal policies.
"By gosh, Iíve got room for a few more wrinkles," he said.
(Editing by Edith Honan and Clarence Fernandez)
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