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Ralph Hall, House's oldest representative, beats Tea Party challenger in Texas GOP primary

Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, the oldest member of the House of Representatives, won a GOP primary battle Tuesday to tea party challenger Steve Clark.

Hall, 89, is best known for his switch of party affiliation from Democratic to Republican in 2004. He had always been considered one of the Democrats’ most conservative members before he switched parties, especially after he endorsed fellow Texan George W. Bush for president in 2000.

But his decision was ultimately spurred in part by congressional redistricting that tilted his district toward the Republicans. Hall registered as a member of the GOP shortly before the filing deadline for his re-election campaign that year.

The 16-term congressman regularly sailed to re-election with at least 58 percent of the vote. But Clark, a former telecommunications executive, spent $100,000 of his own money to mount a fight against Hall.

The super PAC Campaign for Primary Accountability, tried to defeat Hall, waging a nearly $200,000 ad campaign against the congressman. The group has hit incumbents from both parties across the country. It delivered a knockout blows to Reps. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, Don Manzullo, R-Ill., and Tim Holden, D-Pa., in their primary losses earlier this year.

Texas expanded its congressional delegation from 32 to 36 seats this year due to the state’s Hispanic population growth in the past 10 years. The newly drawn district boundaries came into contention earlier this year after the initial map largely favored Democrats. A Texas federal court rejected it, which eventually sent the map to the Supreme Court for review.  

After the high court called for a new map, the Texas court reached a compromise to divide the four new seats evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

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