The tea party appeal of U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz played a role in his Republican primary runoff victory over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst Tuesday.
Cruz captured 56.79 percent of the vote to Dewhurst’s 43.2 percent statewide. On the local level, Cruz was even stronger, getting 2,045, or 62 percent, of the votes cast in Wise County. Dewhurst received 37.9 percent, or 1,253 of the local votes.
“I think in this state and to some extent across the country, people associated with the Tea party movement are tired of candidates that have been in politics for a long time,” said D.A. Sharpe, communications officer for Wise County Republican Party. “They want change, and they feel the best way to make change is to get new people into office.
“I think they represent a lot of people that haven’t been involved with politics at the local level. But now they don’t like what is going in the country and they want to get people elected that they think will change things.”
But Sharpe is quick to say that just because someone has been in office for a long time does not mean they aren’t a good candidate.
“For example, Kay Granger has been in office for a long time and is doing a good job, but some people want her out just because they think she’s been in office too long.”
Sharpe can see it from both angles. He voted for Cruz in the primary but switched his vote to Dewhurst in the run-off.
“I did a lot of thinking,” Sharpe said. “I’ve been a longtime supporter of Dewhurst. And at the same time I don’t get a good feeling from trial lawyers, not all trial lawyers, but I don’t agree with what a lot of them have done.
“But we had good choices. Each candidate could do a good job. I don’t view it as a loss even though Dewhurst didn’t win.”
With the tea party showing they could sway an election, Sharpe wants them to get involved locally with the Republican party.
“I’m somewhat confused and frustrated because what they are advocating is a lot of the same things we are advocating,” he said. “Why can’t they just get involved with our organization which is already in place?”
Two years ago the Wise County Tea Party Patriots was formed. The group broke up several months ago.
Wise County Republicans were also in step with statewide voters in the two railroad commissioner runoffs. Christi Craddick beat Warren Chisum 59 percent to 40 percent statewide. Locally Craddick took 69 percent.
And for the unexpired railroad commissioner term, incumbent Barry Smitherman capture 62 percent of the vote to Greg Parker’s 37.8 percent. Smitherman took 59.2 percent of the vote locally.
Wise County Democrats also had a reason to visit the polls during the runoff. They also went along with statewide trends. U.S Senate candidate Paul Sadler beat Grady Yarbrough 71 to 23 locally. Statewide, Sadler captured 63 percent of the votes casts in the Democratic runoff.