In Texas primaries, incumbents fend off Tea Party candidates

Area Republican members of Congress were all comfortably ahead in their re-election bids Tuesday night, appearing to buck the anti-incumbent sentiments being pushed by Tea Party groups nationwide, according to early and incomplete election results.

In congressional races across the state, Tea Party activists were falling behind in their efforts to unseat GOP incumbents ranging from Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, to Ron Paul, R-Surfside.

A five-way GOP race to determine who will challenge longtime Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards of Waco, whose district includes Johnson and Hood counties, appeared headed to a runoff.

"This shows the Tea Party [activists] probably don't have enough votes to take over the Republican Party," said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University. "The Tea Party effort has gotten a lot of press, but now it's a long time until November.

"History is littered with movements that were able to maintain frustration over a [short] period of time," he said. "But we still have seven months until the next election. I'm not sure they'll be able to maintain their enthusiasm."

Texas' primary comes a year after people fed up with federal spending and big government took to the streets nationwide in Tea Party gatherings to show Congress they are unhappy with what's going on in Washington. Some said this election in Texas would be a gauge of how effective those grassroots activists were in translating their unhappiness into votes.

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