A new class of Texas tea-party darlings, buoyed by millions of dollars in outside spending, won their Republican congressional runoffs Tuesday — all in deep-red districts. Come January, that means the obstructionist wing of the U.S. House Republican conference — the Freedom Caucus — will add a few more Texas wingnuts to its ranks.
Of the six GOP congressional runoffs around the state, all but one of the candidates posturing themselves as purest right-wing conservative — and the most adherent to President Trump’s agenda — in the race wound up winning.
In the 21st Congressional District, Chip Roy, Senator Ted Cruz’s former political operative, beat out Matt McCall. He was helped by about $1 million in outside spending, according to figures compiled by the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek, by the Club for Growth super PAC — the same right-wing group that helped the underdog Cruz win his Senate seat back in 2012.
In the battle to replace disgraced frat boy-turned-Congressman Blake Farenthold in the 27th Congressional District around Corpus Christi, tea party favorite and Victoria County GOP Chair Michael Cloud stomped Bech Bruun, a former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board. Cloud also was aided by more than $600,000 in Club for Growth spending, largely blasting Bruun as a swamp creature.
Ron Wright, the Tarrant County tax assessor, won his runoff against Jake Ellzey in the southern Dallas-Fort Worth seat currently held by sexting-Republican incumbent Joe Barton. Military veteran Dan Crenshaw beat lawyer Kevin Roberts in the runoff for Republican Ted Poe’s Houston area seat.
Bunni Pounds, who was running to succeed her former boss Jeb Hensarling’s Dallas-area seat with backing from Vice President Mike Pence and Cruz, looks like she is on her way to losing to outgoing state Representative Lance Gooden. She, too, was backed with more than $650,000 in Club for Growth money largely spent attacking Gooden as a liberal Republican.
Unless there’s a blue wave that washes into unprecedented GOP turf in Texas, most of the Republican runoff winners will likely skate to victory in November. Roy will face the most contested race against Democrat Joseph Kopser in CD 21.
Ultimately, that means there will be a fresh crop of Texas tea partiers in Congress who are hellbent on pushing the Republican Party further to the right.