HOUSTON — Many expected that by the end of Election Night, we would know which challenger would go head-to-head with incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a runoff primary.
But few thought it would be Dewhurst himself finishing in second place, falling behind State Sen. Dan Patrick.
Dewhurst took the podium right around 9 o'clock and didn't seem down; instead, he said the race was "going into overtime" and he was ready to win.
Some politicos view this election as a report card of sorts on Dewhurst over the past few years, after his loss to Ted Cruz for the U.S. Senate nomination and his management of the State Senate during Wendy Davis' filibuster last year.
Still, the current lieutenant governor sounded confident as he looked ahead to the runoff this spring.
"When May 27th rolls around, we're going to have some real Texas weather again," he told the crowd at his watch party. "So, let's trade back in those umbrellas, scarves and the overcoats for sunscreen, because we're starting all over again with a brand-new election! I know how to win it, and we're going to win it on May 27th!”
Dewhurst is now in his third term as lieutenant governor. He says the second round of his campaign will start bright and early on Wednesday.
Dewhurst and Patrick were challenged by Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.
Patrick is a social conservative firebrand who's made a hard pitch on border issues.
"We're going to have the funds we need; we're going to have the votes we need; we'll be in the runoff, and I believe we'll win it," Patrick said at his watch party in Houston.
Dewhurst and Patrick have each claimed to be the most conservative candidate, and heavily courted tea party groups that were seen as the key to Dewhurst's defeat in his 2012 Senate campaign.
Staples focused on the border in his campaign as well and authored the state's same-sex marriage ban as a legislator.
"I'm a fighter, I'm honest, and I deliver," Staples said.
Patterson, who authored the Texas Concealed Carry law, championed a guest worker proposal adopted by the Republican Party and has cast himself as a risk-taking non-conformist.
"I think they're focused too much on cliches, bumper stickers and short two- or three-word phrases to describe very detailed issues," Patterson said.
Patterson and Staples both held their election night watch parties in Austin. Polls had Patterson in fourth place Tuesday night.
Staples describes himself as a conservative leader who is a "doer," not a spender or talker, and says he's the change Texans need.
"I'm the only candidate in this race that has a six point plan to reform our failed immigration system that starts with border security and does not include amnesty, Staples said.
Patterson spent his afternoon greeting voters in Sun City and in southwest Austin. The retired Marine said he is a leader who will help solve the water, education and transportation problems Texas is facing.
"I'm going to be straight with you, and my story doesn't change from day to day or venue to venue. I'll answer your question. You may not like the answer, you may not agree with it, but I'm going to be straight with you," Patterson said.
Staples said he and Patterson spoke earlier Tuesday, inviting each other to their election night parties.
The winner of the May runoff between Dewhurst and Patrick will face Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in November.
KVUE reporter Mark Wiggins and the Associated Press contributed to this report.