Brent Thompson will be Smith County's new Republican Party chairman. Complete but unofficial returns show that he upset incumbent chairman Tim McCormick.
Thompson won 17,432 votes, or 63.6 percent, to McCormick's 9,959 votes, or 36.4 percent.
Thompson was unavailable for comment Tuesday night. But McCormick said the outcome shows the increasing influence in the local GOP of the Tea Party movement and Grassroots America-We The People, an independent conservative group.
"I was surprised (by the loss)," McCormick acknowledged. "What it shows is that Grassroots America has been very smart and very effective at getting people into positions of power in the party."
JoAnn Fleming, executive director of that organization, said her group supported Thompson, because of his commitment to principle.
"I think Grassroots America was looking for someone who was going to have an active party here," she said late Tuesday. "We want a party that will hold its Republican elected officials accountable for what they say they're going to do. We were very impressed with Mr. Thompson."
Thompson will take office after the state convention in June.