Texas held its primary election on Tuesday, and the results were anything but surprising: President Obama won the Democratic primary, and Mitt Romney came out on top on the GOP side. Still, that doesn't mean the night was without drama, insurgencies, and important mileposts. Here, four takeaways from the Lone Star's turn at the voting booth:
1. Mitt Romney makes it official
Perhaps the biggest winner of the night was Romney, whose 69 percent share of the GOP vote pushed him above the 1,144 delegates he needed to officially cinch his party's presidential nomination. Sure, "in terms of the current campaign, it's a ho-hum milestone; the political world's attention long ago shifted to the Romney/Obama general election fight," says Steve Kornacki at Salon. But take a step back, and Romney's win is "a bit more remarkable." Remember, Donald Trump and just about every GOP candidate was ahead of Romney at one point or another.
2. Tea Party insurgent Ted Cruz forces a runoff
Tuesday's main event was the GOP race to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The winner of the GOP primary is widely expected to become the next junior senator from Texas this fall. But we won't find out who that will be until July 31, since establishment favorite Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst fell short of the 50 percent he needed to avoid an unpredictable nine-week runoff race against "Tea Party all-star" Ted Cruz, a former state solicitor general. At more than $25 million — $10 million of which came from Dewhurst's own pockets — the Cruz-Dewhurst fight is already the most expensive Senate race of this election. For Cruz's backers, "forcing the runoff is itself a huge accomplishment given that Dewhurst is such a well-known and wealthy candidate," says Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy.
3. Obama easily won among Texas Democrats
The president won the Texas Democratic primary with a comfortable 88 percent, dashing Republican hopes that he would be embarrassed by another struggle against an unknown, possibly shady challenger, as he was in West Virginia, Arkansas, and Kentucky. His closest rival, Tennessee lawyer John Wolfe, scored 5 percent. That just goes to show that, as Democratic strategist Matt Angle tells The Washington Post, "In Texas, the people who don't like Obama vote in the Republican primary."
4. Donald Trump hijacked Romney's big night
Romney celebrated his securing of the Republican nomination at a Las Vegas fundraiser hosted by Trump, and all eyes were on The Donald, who'd been interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, where Trump questioned whether Obama was born in the U.S. Blitzer: "Donald, you're beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you"; Trump: "I think you sound ridiculous." David Frum characterized Trump's particularly feisty birther-centered conversation as "a big steaming plate of shit spaghetti Trump just deposited on CNN for his supposed friend Romney."
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