Texas Primary Dynamics

I’m probably going to have a column up tomorrow at TPM previewing tomorrow’s first big primaries of the 2014 cycle, in Texas. But when it comes to the GOP side of the ledger, I’ll warn you right now that there are competing narratives about the meaning of the likely outcome.

If no Tea Party insurgents (e.g., Katrina Pierson’s challenge to Rep. Pete Sessions) score a major victory, you will hear some observers declare the movement dead or dying, right there in Ted Cruz’s backyard. Others (myself included) will note that thanks to Cruz and following Rick Perry’s earlier lead, the “Republican Establishment” in Texas has largely coopted the Tea Party movement with its own savage rhetoric and policies.

One very good example of that is the strange ubiquity of Ted Nugent on the GOP campaign trail in the Lone Star State: not just in Greg Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign, but in an even higher profile as co-chair of Dan Miller’s bid for state agriculture commissioner. Another is the careful positioning of the next major Bush dynastic threat after his daddy Jeb, George P. Bush, who is very closely associating himself with Cruz in his candidacy for Land Commissioner.

But to those eager to bury the Tea Party, signs that it’s more or less already conquered the Texas GOP will be missed–just as it’s often been missed that the Great Texas Economic Miracle meme reflects the Tea Party’s favorite economic theory that a stunted public sector is the eternal path to prosperity.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.