DALLAS (AP) – The first hints of just how conservative the 2013 Texas Legislature will be are set to be unveiled in Tuesday’s primary election.
Republicans hold large majorities in both the House and Senate and will most likely still be in power in 2013, but redistricting, retirement and ambition for new office have led to some blistering campaigns, particularly in among some GOP colleagues.
Several long-time Republicans find themselves locked in vicious campaigns, including a few incumbent House members who were forced to run against each other when new election maps were drawn in 2011.
Even in a Legislature that rolled over Democrats to cut $4 billion in education, passed a voter ID law and placed more restrictions on women seeking an abortion in 2011, this year’s primary campaigns have been dominated by Republicans trying to prove who among them is the most conservative.
The tea party movement that pushed House Republicans to a 101-49 super-majority in that chamber is again engaged in several key races across the state. The education cuts of 2011 have also been target for challengers who say conservatives cut too deep.
One of the nastiest races has been in Senate District 25, which stretches from San Antonio to Austin, where 19-year incumbent Jeff Wentworth has drawn a tough challenge from former state Railroad Commission Elizabeth Ames Jones. Wentworth has been targeted for defeat by the powerful business lobby Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
In the House, Gov. Rick Perry recently waded into the fight between two East Texas incumbents battling for a new district. Perry endorsed Rep. James White, one of only two black Republicans in the Legislature last year, against Rep. Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton, who’s been in office since 2003.
Hamilton recently released records that showed the Livingston school district gave White a warning letter about holding inappropriate sexual discussions while teaching high school in 2007. Perry still chose to endorse White at a campaign event last week.
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