Washington: The oldest serving member in the US Congress, Ralph Hall, lost his re-election bid to a Tea Party-backed challenger barely half his age.
The 91-year-old Texan, first elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1980 but who became a Republican in 2004, was seeking an 18th term when he was bounced late yesterday in a party run-off, becoming the first incumbent this year to lose a US primary election.
John Ratcliffe, a 48-year-old former US attorney, won the race in the first significant congressional victory this election cycle for the anti-tax, small-government Tea Party movement after a series of defeats for their endorsed candidates in other states.
Hall led in the original Republican primary in March but failed to win an outright majority, prompting the runoff in which he slumped after tea party groups and the conservative Club for Growth endorsed Ratcliffe, who argued that Texas conservatives need a fresh face in Washington.
"Hall has served admirably," Ratcliffe said in a television ad that featured his young daughters playing in the background.
"But after four decades in Washington, the problems are getting worse, not better."
Had he prevailed, Hall would have been the last remaining World War II veteran in Congress. That war`s only other current veteran, longest-serving congressman John Dingle, is retiring after 59 years in the House.
"It was a combination of Hall`s age, longevity in Congress and being a former Democrat -- but it probably took all three of those things to doom him, not any single one," David Wasserman, an analyst for the non-partisan Cook Political Report, said according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Tea Party also scored a victory in the race for Texas lieutenant governor, showing the movement`s influence has not waned in the Lone Star State as it has elsewhere.
State Senator Dan Patrick, who has earned a reputation for his combative style and ideological stands against abortion and illegal immigration, easily defeated incumbent David Dewhurst.
"Tea Party folks love America," Patrick said in a victory speech.
"They love the Constitution. They love free markets, and they love the Second Amendment, and they love Texas. And they love the liberty that is granted to them by God and not government."