It was a bad election night for Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas’ best-funded Tea Party group

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Gov. Greg Abbott and the state’s top Tea Party group — Empower Texans — went hard after “squishy” Republicans who bucked the governor or strayed too far from the party orthodoxy. The effort mostly failed.

Republican incumbents who dared to buck their party leaders or supposedly influential activist groups had a target on their backs in the 2018 primaries.

Nearly all of them won anyway.

Even when Republican Gov. Greg Abbott put his own campaign money and clout on the line, he mostly came up empty-handed, failing to defeat maverick Republican Reps. Sarah Davis of Houston and Lyle Larson of San Antonio.

Perhaps no group got spanked harder Tuesday night than Empower Texans, a conservative group known for using hardball tactics and waging aggressive campaigns against legislators like Davis and Larson who buck the Tea Party orthodoxy. Its political action committee, fat with oil money, spent more than any other PAC in Texas as of late January, a Texas Tribune analysis showed, but when the smoke cleared from the 2018 Republican primaries, the group could claim only a small handful of scalps.

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