Tea Party Influence May Dissipate In General Election
The Texas Republican primary and runoff elections have been dominated by tea party values, but once the votes are in and a full Republican ticket is formed, will candidates move back to the center?
Without even looking at the runoff election returns, Professor Mark P. Jones, who heads up the political science department at Rice University in Houston, said the tea party is already a winner in Texas.
"The tea party issues have really defined the terms of this campaign," Jones said.
But Jones said one of the major differences between this year and past elections is centrist Republicans are more afraid of losing their position to the far-right than they are to a Democrat in the fall. But will this far-right movement be something Texas voters will see in the general election?
“I think we will see the tea party influence start to dissipate somewhat," Jones said. "Candidates will be conflicted between the need to not alienate tea party supporters, who effectively elected them in the Republican primary and put them in the November election, but also they will need to worry about antagonizing general election voters."
Jones said for candidates like Houston Republican State Sen. Dan Patrick who is running to become the next Lt. Governor it will be like walking a tightrope.
Jones said “Because he’s run so far to the right to win the primary that he runs the risk if he starts to pivot back to the center with the focus on the general election he’s going to hear cries of betrayal by movement conservatives, but if he doesn’t try to at least move a little bit towards the center he’s runs the risk of a narrow victory over Leticia Van De Putte.”, which has been done before by Gov. Rick Perry.
Jones said because of this tightrope act, you can expect more attacks from Democrats; in many cases they will rely on a Republican candidate's own words taken from the primary election.