It looks pretty bleak to me. He can run for reelection in 2014, but there is no assurance that he would win. The last sitting lieutenant governor to try to move up was Ben Barnes in 1972, and he finished third in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Dewhurst’s brand has been damaged, perhaps beyond repair, and he has an announced opponent in Jerry Patterson (who fits the mold of an insurgent candidate) and several other hopefuls (Combs, Staples, Abbott). Even if he is reelected, he’s likely to suffer the same fate as Joe Straus has had to endure in the House: He can preside, but the Republican caucus will be where the power really lies. The senators were on the edge of rebellion last session and there is no reason to believe that they will feel more kindly to a defeated Dewhurst. If he wants to continue in politics, his best hope may be for a plum job in a Romney administration–if there is one.
I think he’s done in Texas. His loss to Cruz is magnified by the fact that Dewhurst collapsed in the closing days of both the primary and the runoff. He failed in his effort to win without a runoff and actually went backward in the closing days of the primary. He took a 144,000 vote lead from the primary into the runoff and got blown away. He put his campaign in the hands of Rick Perry’s consultants, whose strategy was to put Perry, not Dewhurst, front and center in the campaign and tout the endorsement of a governor who was himself damaged goods. The story of the failed Dewhurst campaign is really the story of the failed Perry consultant team, which ran out of ideas.