U.S. Sen. John Cornyn claimed a commanding victory Tuesday night in his quest to serve a third six-year term in Congress.
The Senate’s second-ranking Republican a strong lead against seven challengers, including U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, ultimately claiming nearly three-fifths of all Republican votes cast in this race.
On the Democratic side, Dallas dentist David M. Alameel jumped out to an early lead in the five-way contest but is heading to a May 27 runoff with second-place finisher Kesha Rogers.
Tuesday’s primary in Texas kicked off midterm elections and the battle for control of Congress.
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Cornyn — a former Texas attorney general and former associate justice on the Texas Supreme Court — faced more challengers than normal but claimed nearly 60 percent of the early vote, with 8,825 of 8,829 precincts reporting Wednesday morning.
This race, and this slate of challengers, came as Tea Party supporters nationwide promised to challenge more incumbents, hoping to propel candidates of their choice into office.
Early on, Cornyn, who serves as minority whip, hired a well-known Tea Party organizer, Brandon Steinhauser, who has ties with statewide Tea Party activists, to help run his campaign.
The race ramped up when Stockman, R-Friendswood, who is best known for criticizing the Affordable Care Act and for saying that the government executed members of the Branch Davidian cult — jumped in at the last minute.
Stockman began with Tea Party support but appeared to lose some of it after a group of activists issued a letter charging that he ran a lazy campaign and shouldn’t be elected to the Senate. At one point during the campaign, Stockman couldn’t be found for nearly two weeks.
Other Republicans and the votes they drew with nearly all the precincts reporting Wednesday morning: Curt Cleaver of Keller, less than 1 percent; Ken Cope of Midlothian, nearly 3 percent; Chris Mapp of Port O’Connor, less than 2 percent; Reid Reasor of Austin, less than 2 percent; Stockman, 19 percent; Dwayne Stovall of Cleveland, 10 percent; and Linda Vega of Houston, nearly 4 percent.
Cornyn became Texas’ senior senator last year when Kay Bailey Hutchison left office.
As for the Democrats, Alameel — a Dallas businessman and dentist who personally funded an unsuccessful bid for the 33rd Congressional District in 2012 — ended up claiming 47 percent of the vote, just under the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff, with 8,742 of 8,745 precincts reporting Wednesday.
Rogers, who sparked the ire of some leaders in the Texas Democratic Party, garnered the second-highest percentage of votes — nearly 21 percent.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa got involved in the race, sending out an email telling voters that Rogers is not a Democrat and should not win the party’s nomination. His email noted that Rogers has “paraded around Texas with a poster of the president with a Hitler mustache” and has “advocated for colonizing Mars.”
Rogers, who has been allied with political extremist Lyndon LaRouche and is a constant candidate, has called for the impeachment of President Barack Obama, among other things.
Other Democrats and the votes they drew, with 8,742 of 8,745 precincts reporting: Harry Kim of West Texas, nearly 9 percent; Maxey Marie Scherr of El Paso, 17.7 percent; and Michael “Fjet” Fjetland of Houston, nearly 5 percent.
A look at how some Texas congressional races fared:
District 13: Longtime Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, led in his re-election bid, claiming more than 67 percent to challenger Pam Barlow’s 13 percent and Elaine Hays’ 18 percent.
District 19: Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, held a lead, garnering 64 percent of the vote to challenger Donald R. May’s 24 percent and Chris Winn’s nearly 12 percent.
District 32: Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, trailed in his re-election bid early, but ended up claiming 63 percent of the vote to Tea Party activist Katrina Pierson’s 36 percent.
This was one of the most heated congressional races. Sessions is a powerful lawmaker who heads the key Rules Committee and was a major player in raising money and recruiting candidates to boost House Republicans’ numbers to reclaim the House majority in 2010.