HOUSTON — After a close and hard-fought primary election, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, took a lead over incumbent David Dewhurst in the race for the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor but did not garner enough votes to cross the 50 percent required threshold.
Patrick and Dewhurst will face off in a run-off election on May 27.
In a speech early in the night, Dewhurst, who has served as lieutenant governor for 11 years, repeatedly referenced his conservative voting record and said he was optimistic about the run-off election.
“This race is going into overtime, and we’re going to win it,” Dewhurst said. “We’re starting over again in a brand-new election.”
Patrick, who late Tuesday night had about 42 percent of the vote to Dewhurst’s approximately 28 percent, also attributed his success to his conservative positions.
“The people stood with me because we were right on the issues: secure the border, lower their property taxes, improve our education system … [and] rule as conservatives,” Patrick said. “We will show the rest of the country what it means to be conservative.”
Both Patrick and Dewhurst mentioned immigration issues in their first election-night remarks.
“I want to secure our southern border,” Dewhurst said. “I’ve been working on it for seven years, and I want to shut it down once and for all.”
Sylvia Withrow, a Patrick supporter from Clear Lake, Texas, said she backs Patrick primarily for his immigration stance.
“If we can’t control our border, then we won’t be able to feel safe,” Withrow said. “There’s a lot of gang activity, and I think because we’re not patrolling our borders like we should, they’re coming in a lot more easily — undetected.”
Dewhurst said he felt confident he would be able to win the run-off election.
“I’m going to keep telling the story of our amazing state, which is the envy of the rest of the country,” Dewhurst said.
Dewhurst-supporter Jesse Hamilton, a lawyer from Houston, said he felt Dewhurst has changed over the course of the campaign.
“I liked that he was a moderate,” Hamilton said. “Now, he’s become more conservative, and I’m not really sure why.”
All four Republican candidates touted similar positions on immigration, abortion, same-sex marriage, creationism and handguns on campus over the course of the campaign.
The two other Republican candidates for the lieutenant governor position, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, trailed in votes throughout the night.
At Patterson’s primary watch party in Austin, some campaign workers acknowledged that a victory was unlikely soon after the voting period was over.
“We’re realistic,” press secretary Jim Suydam said. “We’ve seen the polls. It is what it is. This is really just a retirement party for us.”
Staples echoed a similar sentiment at his campaign headquarters.
“These election night victory parties are a lot more fun when you’re winning,” Staples said.
In a speech, Patterson said his loss was a result of simply not working hard enough.
“Things did not turn out as we hoped,” Patterson said. “As for me, I’m coming back to work — we’ve got stuff to do.”
At Staples’ headquarters, his supporters said they appreciated Staples’ passion and sincerity.
“He never stops giving himself to everyone,” Staples supporter Gayle DeBerry said. “He truly believes Texas can be a better place.”
Just after 10 p.m., Staples acknowledged his loss and said he was proud of the campaign he and his workers waged.
“We fought a great fight,” Staples said. “We had a great battle. The ball just didn’t bounce our way on this one.”
Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples at his campaign headquarters in Austin. Photo by Jonathan Garza / Daily Texan Staff.
Alyssa Mahoney and Leila Ruiz reported from Houston, while Justin Atkinson and Alex Wilts reported from Austin. Additional reporting by Jordan Rudner.
This article has been updated since its original posting.