Texas GOP Senate Primary Going to Runoff

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The Texas Republican Senate primary will go to a runoff, with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Solicitor General and Tea Party up-and-comer Ted Cruz facing off in the contest, which is scheduled for July 31.

In order to win their party’s nomination outright, a candidate in Texas must receive at least 50 percent of the vote.  With almost all of the precincts reporting, neither candidate was able to do that Tuesday night.  Dewhurst came in first and Cruz followed in second, while former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former ESPN analyst Craig James finished in a distant third and fourth place, respectively.

Cruz has argued that he will be the beneficiary in a runoff.

“If we get to a runoff, we win decisively,” Cruz told ABC News in an interview.

Dewhurst said his strategy in a runoff will be the same as his strategy in the primary -- to be the top vote-getter.

“As long as I do that then we’ll either win the primary on Tuesday night or we’ll win the primary on the runoff date on July 31,″ he said.

Many GOP strategists in the state believe that Cruz will do well in a runoff, as turnout is likely to drop off to a more conservative bloc of voters, who would presumably be inclined to back Cruz.  However, Dewhurst could get a bump from Leppert supporters.  If they turnout in the primary, conventional wisdom is they would likely favor the lieutenant governor over the former solicitor general.

Meanwhile, the Democratic primary in Texas will also go to a runoff between former State Representative Paul Sadler and Grady Yarbrough, a San Antonio resident.  That primary has received significantly less attention however, as the Senate seat, currently held by retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, is widely considered to be safe for Republicans.  Democrats have not won a statewide election in Texas since 1994.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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