As has been well-documented here at Red State and at many other venues, the Tea Party has remained not only viable, but still quite capable of producing the sorts of primary challenges needed to overhaul a feckless, ideologically meandering GOP. While high profile Senate races have rightly garnered the lion's share of attention, including one right here in Texas, races for the U.S. House also bear witness to a Tea Party that is not only alive, but thriving.
Texas U.S. House District 25 is one remodeled by the Texas legislature following the 2010 Texas. Formerly the seat of die-hard progressive Lloyd Doggett, TX-25 now encompasses rural Central Texas instead of liberal Travis County, and was designed to create a safe Republican seat. See for a view of TX-25. As expected, there were a rash of candidates vying for the GOP nomination in what is essentially a brand-new district. Two well-known names threw their hats into the ring: former Secretary of State and auto dealer Roger Williams, and former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams (no relation). Flying below the radar, at least in terms of Texas media, was West Point graduate and career Army officer Wes Riddle, founder of the Central Texas Tea Party.
Both the Williams' were expected to run big dollar campaigns, and both had originally looked to the senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchinson. When it became clear that the money-machine known as David Dewhurst intended to run, the Williams' pulled up stakes for a friendlier pasture: House District 25. While neither candidate resides in the district, they are close enough that it didn't appear to be naked political opportunism (though I have my suspicions). The big campaign from Michael Williams never materialized. Roger Williams, however, put out an advertising blitz both via radio and direct mail. The high profile campaign of Roger Williams fit expectations (Michael Williams disappointed). Wes Riddle meanwhile, quietly picked up strong endorsements in the area, even as his campaign engaged in comparatively little advertising.
I held out little hope for Wes Riddle in this race, expecting that he would be swamped by the money and name recognition of Roger Williams. When the smoke cleared this morning, however, Riddle found himself in a runoff situation with Williams. While Williams ran about 10 points better than Riddle, the two combined for a mere 35% of the total vote. There is a lot of room for Wes Riddle to make up the ground. Now, he needs money and support. I am proud to support for U.S. Congress, and I hope that other Red Staters in Texas will find him worthy of their support as well.