By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Texans went to the polls on Tuesday in primary elections where the top candidates for governor were projected to post easy wins and favorites of the conservative Tea Party movement shook up several races with established Republicans.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, will win his race by a wide margin, local media projected. Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading Republican candidate for governor, and state Senator Wendy Davis, the top Democratic Party candidate, were also projected to win in landslides, they said.
Run-off elections will be held on May 27 between the top two vote-getters in races where a single candidate did not win an outright majority.
The vote marks a changing of the guard for the Republicans with long-serving Governor Rick Perry not seeking re-election, perhaps to pursue a presidential run in 2016. Republicans dominate the statehouse and have not lost a statewide race since 1994.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has emerged as one of the leaders of the Texas Republicans, pushing politics in the already conservative state even further to the right, analysts said. He is a favorite of the Tea Party movement, which is considered both conservative and libertarian and also populist in advocating for a smaller federal government and tax cuts.
Perry, governor since 2000, has won praise for increasing jobs, exports and the size of the Texas economy, which has a $1.4 trillion annual GDP, slightly larger than South Korea’s.
Perry has been criticized for not doing enough to improve schools or provide health insurance for the poor, while pushing a socially conservative agenda with increased abortion restrictions and a ban on same-sex marriage.
A host of Republican hopefuls have been trying to ride on the coattails of new star Cruz, turning campaigns into raucous affairs about how much they despise President Barack Obama’s healthcare policy, embrace the constitutional right to bear arms and see a need to raise alarms about undocumented immigrants.
“The Republican lieutenant governor’s race and attorney general’s race have been races to the right,” said Sherri Greenberg, Director at the Center for Politics and Governance at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.
These two races were likely heading for run-offs.
In the Dallas area, U.S. Representative Pete Sessions is the most prominent Republican in the Tea Party firing line. Challenger Katrina Pierson’s website features a picture of Cruz and a quote in which he calls her “an utterly fearless principled conservative.”
Less than 1 percent of the precincts had reported in that race as of 8:30 p.m. U.S. Central Time, according to official voting results.
In neighboring Fort Worth, Cruz has endorsed local Tea Party leader Konni Burton as the Republican nominee for a state Senate seat. Burton was the early leader in the race.
State Senator Ken Paxton, running in a crowded field for attorney general, has featured a comment on his website in which Cruz calls him a “conservative warrior.”
Paxton took an early lead over Dan Branch, a long-serving member of the Texas House in that race.
(Editing by Grant McCool and Eric Walsh)
[Image via ABC News]
UK travel giant Thomas Cook set to collapse: report
Thomas Cook's 178-year existence was reported to be coming to an end on Monday after the British travel firm struggled to find private investment to keep it afloat, potentially affecting thousands of holidaymakers.
The operator has said it needs £200 million ($250 million) or else it will face administration, which could affect 600,000 holidaymakers and require Britain's largest peacetime repatriation.
A source close to the negotiations told AFP that the company had failed to find the cash from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.
But ministers are unlikely to step in due to worries about the pioneering operator's longer-term viability, the Times reported, leaving it on the brink.
‘We are the people’: Watch Billy Porter get a standing ovation for his passionate speech at the Emmys
In a powerful and passionate speech accepting his Emmy, "Pose" actor Billy Porter showered the audience with love and proudly reminded all of their right to belong and be loved.
"Oh, my God. God bless you all! The category is love, y'all, love!" Porter exclaimed.
The epic FX show "Pose" depicts Black and Latinos in the LGBTQ ballroom culture of New York City in the 1980s in the first season and the early 1990s in the second season.
"I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day," he said. "James Baldwin wrote, 'It took many years of vomiting up the filth I was taught about myself and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.' I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right."
Paris show of King Tutankhamun artifacts set new record with 1.42 million visitors
A blockbuster Tutankhamun show set a new all-time French record Sunday, with 1.42 million visitors flocking to see the exhibition in Paris, the organisers said.
The turnout beat the previous record set by another Tutankhamun show billed as the "exhibition of the century" in 1967, when 1.24 million queued to see "Tutankhamun and His Times" at the Petit Palais.
"Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" -- which has been described as a "once in a generation" show -- will open in London in November.
The last time a show of comparable size about the boy king opened there in 1972 it sparked "Tutmania", with 1.6 million people thronging the British Museum.