HOUSTON — Republican incumbents threatened by
The primary also marked the electoral debut of the fourth generation of the
The Associated Press projected all three as the winners shortly after polls closed.
The Texas election kicked off the 2014 campaign season with themes expected to play out among conservatives across the country this year. Cornyn was one of more than a dozen incumbent
Cornyn, the Senate's second-ranking Republican, led in early returns Tuesday over U.S. Rep.
Some experts consider Cornyn's margin of victory, once all the ballots are counted, a bellwether of anti-incumbent sentiment.
"If Cornyn comes out below 60%, then the sense is that he looks relatively weak," said Jim Henson, who directs the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. As early votes were counted, Cornyn was exceeding that level.
"It's a protest vote," said Stuart Rothenberg, who analyzes races for his nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, adding that if Stockman were to get 20% to 25% of the vote, "it would tell you there's a chunk of the Republican Party who will vote for anybody who challenges the Republican establishment."
Mark Jones, chairman of the political science department at Houston's Rice University, was tracking Cornyn's margin of victory compared with that of Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott.
Abbott, the state attorney general, had far more cash and name recognition than his three challengers and had already been facing off against the Democratic candidate for November, state Sen.
"The closer Cornyn is to Abbott, the better we should gauge his performance," Jones said.
In the governor's race, the first without an incumbent since 1990, voters can expect continued "trench warfare" between Abbott and Davis on a statewide and national scale, Henson said.
The two have been attacking each other in recent months over everything from his alliance with shock rocker Ted Nugent to exaggerations in the onetime single mother's hard-luck campaign trail biography.
"We'll continue to see them battling it out from news cycle to news cycle," Henson said.
Like Cornyn, Sessions beat back a tea party challenge, his by activist Katrina Pierson.
Bush's primary opponent, east Texas businessman David Watts, raised a fraction of the millions Bush amassed. It's been about five years since a Bush held elected office, the longest lapse in 32 years. Partisans hope that Bush, a Fort Worth lawyer and Navy veteran fluent in Spanish, will revive his family's role in Republican politics while expanding the party's appeal to Latino voters.
"Republicans around the country who remain loyal to former President George W. Bush and his father are going to see this George Bush as part of that legacy and somebody they can support. And other Republicans are going to see George P. as quite a profile: His mother's Mexican, he can appeal to Latino voters, he's young, articulate," Rothenberg said. "The question is what kind of resume does he build in office."