Wendy Davis victory, and four more takeaways from Texas primary

Wendy Davis won the Democratic primary in Texas. Now Wendy Davis squares off against Greg Abbott in what will likely be the most expensive governor's race ever held in Texas.

The results of the Texas primary on Tuesday night revealed that conservatives reign supreme in the Republican primary and Democrats have a lot of work to do ahead of November's general election. Here are five things to know about the Texas primaries:

Wendy Davis and the Democrats have a lot of work to do

Democrats formed Battleground Texas a year ago to breathe new life into the moribund party and Fort Worth Sen. Wendy Davis became a hero for women's rights by filibustering restrictive abortion legislation. But voter turnout in the Democratic primary was average, indicating that the party still lacks enthusiasm among the thousands of new voters it has registered. Democrats argue that since there was only one competitive race, turnout in the primary is unimportant, but voting is a habit that Democrats need to pick up to win their first statewide office in 20 years.

Her underdog campaign has raised $16 million so far behind a whopping 91,000 individual donors and big checks from abortion-rights groups.

"If people don't start supporting the Democratic Party and voting as a Democrat, instead of being a Democrat voting in the Republican primary, then we're never going to win races and we're never going to establish ourselves as a serious party here," said Janet Veal, 43, a student adviser at Texas Tech University who cast her ballot Tuesday in Lubbock.


Ted Cruz blazed a trail and Tea Party conservatives are following

Ted Cruz may now be the most powerful Republican in conservative Texas. His victory in 2012 served as an example for other grassroots conservatives and permanently damaged Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who came in a disappointing second place in a four-way GOP primary on Tuesday. Houston Sen. Dan Patrick crowed that his first place showing forcing a runoff with Dewhurst is proof the tea party is alive and well in Texas. Tea party conservatives who invoked Cruz's name and image scored well in other statewide races now headed for May 27 runoffs. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions easily defeated underfunded tea party challengers, but not without real effort, and the nation's oldest congressmen, Ralph Hall, is headed for a runoff in his North Texas district.


Republicans will be busy this spring with runoff races

Six of the state's top jobs did not have an incumbent, and 26 Republicans battled for those seats. That led to a lot of runoffs on Tuesday night, including race for the key posts of lieutenant governor, attorney general, state comptroller, agriculture commissioner and railroad commissioner. Since the Republican nominee has won every statewide election since 1994, this spring could see some intense campaigning to win over what has traditionally been a tiny electorate in runoffs.


Democrats will be heading for potentially embarrassing runoffs

Kesha Rogers, a Lyndon LaRouche follower who wants to impeach President Barack Obama, made it into the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Dallas Dentist David Alameel failed to break the 50 percent mark in his bid for the Republican nomination and embarrassing the Texas Democratic Party at a time when it is trying to be taken seriously. Mainstream Democrats, who want a conventional slate for November, will also want to get involved in the runoff for agriculture commissioner, which pits country singer and humorist Kinky Friedman against Jim Hogan, an unknown cattle farmer from Cleburne.


The governor's race will be very expensive

Both Wendy Davis and Republican Greg Abbott formally won their party's nominations for governor clearing the way for the real race to begin. The candidates' victory speeches Tuesday signaled starkly different approaches for what is expected to be the most expensive governor's race in Texas history. Davis tore into Abbott for his opposition to abortion and gay marriage, while Abbott didn't mention his opponent once.


Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/cltomlinson

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