Former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe beat Republican Rep. Ralph Hall in a primary runoff Tuesday night in Texas, becoming the first Republican challenger to unseat an incumbent member of Congress this election year.
The Associated Press called the race for Ratcliffe just after 10 p.m. Eastern time, with Ratcliffe leading Hall 52 percent to 48 percent in Texas’s 4th Congressional District.
In the absence of major policy differences, Hall’s age became a central issue in the campaign. Hall, 91 years old and first elected in 1980, is the oldest member ever to serve in the House. Ratcliffe rarely pointed directly to Hall’s age, but frequently described himself as a “new generation” Republican who was part of the party’s future. He also cast Hall as a career politician and tied him to voters’ disappointment in Congress.
“At 91, Ralph Hall has served admirably,” Ratcliffe said in one TV ad. “But after four decades in Washington, the problems are getting worse, not better.”
Ratcliffe’s own money helped make him the most formidable opponent of Hall’s career. He loaned his campaign $575,300 of his own money to finance the challenge, and Ratcliffe also benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending from groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, Now or Never PAC, and the Club for Growth, which boosted the challenger and critiqued Hall’s long voting record.
Hall, meanwhile, had overwhelming support from current and former members of Texas’s congressional delegation, including former Rep. Ron Paul. Fellow Republican members helped raise money for Hall with his seat in jeopardy over the last few months.
Ratcliffe forced Hall into a runoff after the March 4 primary, in which the incumbent finished first but failed to reach the 50 percent threshold necessary to win the nomination. Hall received 45 percent of the vote in that election while Ratcliffe received 29 percent, advancing to the head-to-head matchup over four other Republican candidates.
What We're Following See More »
"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."
The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former national security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents requested are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes is not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.
The U.S. deployed "F-35 joint strike fighters" to Estonia on Tuesday. The "jets will stay in Estonia for several weeks and will be a part of training flights with U.S. and other NATO air forces." The move comes at a time of high tension between the U.S. and Estonia's neighbor, Russia. The two nations have been at odds over a number of issues recently, most of all being Vladimir Putin's support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in light of Assad's chemical weapons attack on his own people in the midst of a civil war.