Unexpected primary results require run-offs

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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event at the Somers Furniture warehouse in Las Vegas Tuesday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

After months of delay, the long-anticipated Texas primary election yielded few surprises for both Democratic and Republican candidates.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney took 69 percent of the Texas vote for the Republican presidential race, pushing him past the required 1,144 delegates required to be nominated at the August 27 Republican National Convention.

Despite being challenged by Tennessee lawyer John Wolfe, who received 42 percent of the Arkansas primary on May 22, Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama’s 88 percent Texas victory was expected well ahead of time, said Huey Fischer, government junior and University Democrats president.

“Obama is the Democratic party leader,” Fischer said. “Everybody has accepted that. What happened in Arkansas, whether they were just doing a protest vote or if they thought it would be funny, who knows. I honestly don’t believe a majority of that 42 percent actually believe John Wolfe would be a better president.”

Fischer said the real surprise to Democratic voters in Texas is the current runoff election between Grady Yarbrough and former Texas legislator Paul Sadler for the Democratic U.S. Senate seat. Runoff elections, which will take place July 31, occur when no single candidate receives the majority of a primary vote. Fischer said a runoff between Sadler and candidate Sean Hubbard had previously been expected.

“It certainly was a surprise to see Yarbrough come in second,” Fischer said. “It now seems like he concentrated his campaign in [East Texas] and while he was reaching the larger constituency, Hubbard was targeting established Democrats that had made up their minds about Sadler.”

Sadler’s previous experience in the Texas House of Representatives and his focus on educational reform make him a popular choice among established Democrats, said Texas Democratic Party spokesperson Rebecca Acuna.

“Paul Sadler did serve in the state House and he’s a renowned expert on education,” Acuna said. “I think he’s got a lot more experience and more name recognition.”

Fischer said a major concern to Democrats in Austin was the near loss of Congressman Lloyd Doggett due to redistricting. Austin currently resides in District 35, a newly created district that includes San Antonio.

“If we had lost Lloyd Doggett, we would have been the largest city in the United States without its own congressman,” Fischer said. “With the overwhelming support he got not only in Austin, but in Hays County and Bexar County, we showed that the entire Central Texas region wanted an experienced congressman who really supports education and its funding.”

The Republican Senate race ended with former Solicitor General Ted Cruz holding 34.2 percent of the vote and current Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst having 45 percent. The two candidates are also scheduled for a runoff in July. Republican Party of Texas spokesperson Chris Elam said each candidate’s extensive experience in Texas politics makes each a solid competitor for the position of senator.

“Their campaigns have been hard at work for the past several months, and in fact Cruz has been running for the past several years,” Elam said. “They are two established candidates who have been campaigning hard for a long time. To see them together in a runoff is not surprising.”

Krista Aguilar, human development junior and College Republicans of Texas executive vice president, said the runoff process shows a strong tendency in voters to think critically about each candidate.

“There are going to be many Republican runoffs in July,” Aguilar said. “I’m glad to see that we as Republicans are really voicing our opinions and not settling for just one candidate. We’re standing behind who we think is best qualified, especially for the position of senator.”

Aguilar said the next two months of campaigning will be among the most exciting to watch in the elections process as runoff candidates attempt to appeal further to voters.

“I think just for me, as a Republican, that this is a very exciting time being here in Austin,” Aguilar said. “I’m really anxious to see what happens in the upcoming months because I know the candidates are really going to hit the ground running.”