The Tea Party had its share of success in Tuesday’s primary runoffs, and more may lie ahead. KERA's Sam Baker looks ahead to the fall elections with Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey.
Interview Highlights: The Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey on …
… the tea party’s strength in Texas: “The national storyline has been that traditional Republicans or establishment Republicans have been fighting the tea party back. That’s not the case in Texas. In Texas the tea party dominated the top of the ticket. They did less well in the house races but at statewide level and at state senate level it was a tea party election. The tea party element inside the Republican Party is the most active piece. They’re organized. They’re focused. The other side hasn’t gotten off the couch in the same way. The activists at any given time in time in a political party are the ones who are in control and right now the activists in the Republican Party are the fiscal and social conservatives that have collectively come to be called the tea party.”
… the Democrats in the fall: “The Democrats have lost nine election cycles in a row. They haven’t won a statewide race in 1994. Their infrastructure t has suffered. Voter turnout was almost 3-to-1 Republican (Tuesday). The Democrats didn’t have the same number of competitive and interesting races that the Republicans did. This has been an ongoing problem with Texas Democrats. They’re not as organized. They’re not as tightly knit. It’s hard to build a wave behind a candidate, even if you have a really great candidate. All of that said, [Democratic lieutenant governor candidate] Leticia Van de Putte is a charismatic candidate, more so than maybe even the gubernatorial candidate, Wendy Davis. She’s going to have a sharp contrast with [Republican lieutenant governor candidate] Dan Patrick. You have a white Anglo male from Houston running. He’s a very conservative Republican. You’ve got a Latina from San Antonio running as a moderate to liberal democrat. Voters will certainly have a choice here.”
… the state of the governor’s race: “[We] will start to see the sharp differences. Where [Republican candidate Greg] Abbott talks about here’s what you get with me and here’s what you get with [Democratic candidate Wendy] Davis. Davis needs [the debates] them more than Abbott does. It’s a Republican state. If you let things go to the status quo, the argument is that the red flag would beat the blue flag. She needs the debate more to establish the context. He’s got $30 million stashed away for advertising, which is plenty. She needs to raise some money. She’s in the challenging position and she needs to get in a position where she can try to tear him down a little bit.”