A massive upset, and a major triumph for both the conservative and Tea Party movements:
Former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, a tea party-aligned conservative once regarded as a long-shot candidate, has won the Republican runoff in Texas, where he will be the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in the November election. The Associated Press has called the race for Cruz over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Cruz will be a heavy favorite over Democratic nominee Paul Sadler, who also won a runoff on Tuesday. Cruz, an emerging conservative star whose father emigrated to the United States from Cuba, has drawn comparisons to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and has been lauded by national conservative political pundits and groups for over a year. His victory is a major blow to the Republican establishment in Texas, which lined up squarely behind Dewhurst. It’s also a victory for the tea party and national conservatives who lined up behind Cruz even when a surprise win appeared unlikely. Cruz’s win is a remarkable political feat and arguably the Senate upset of the cycle.
For an idea of why conservatives are so high on Cruz, read National Review's early endorsement. The guy's really impressive. With 28 percent of the vote counted, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz leads Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst by eight percentage points (54-46), and the Associated Press is calling it for the conservative. The Club for Growth, which poured more than $5 million into the race on Cruz's behalf, released this gratified statement moments ago:
“Ted Cruz is a champion of economic freedom and we look forward to seeing him fight for America in the Senate .” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “Ted Cruz won because he clearly articulated the pro-growth message that Republican voters across the country have responded to. Tonight, Texas Republicans have shown Washington that the people do not work for the politicians – the politicians work for the people.”
National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Cornyn -- a fellow Texan -- is joining the chorus of congratulations for Cruz, praising him for his once-improbable victory and pledging to fully back him in the general election:
This has been a hard-fought and spirited primary battle and the people of Texas would have been fortunate to have any one of these well-qualified candidates as their next U.S. Senator. But I could not be more pleased with the nomination of Ted Cruz and I offer my warmest congratulations to Ted, his wife Heidi and their two daughters. He and his team ran a remarkable race and this is a well-deserved and well-earned victory. Throughout his life, and his professional career, Ted Cruz has been a shining example to all of us that hard work, perseverance, and the freedom and opportunity that this country has to offer opens the doors for every American to achieve their goals.
Ted believes, as I do, that we need to make Washington DC look a little more like the great state of Texas, and that starts with restoring common-sense, conservative values in our nation’s Capital. The Texas economy has been growing precisely because we believe in the values of freedom, personal responsibility and limited government. With a strong, hard-working ally in Ted Cruz, we will work to pass a balanced budget amendment, remove the federal government’s boot off the neck of our small businesses, and repeal-and-replace ObamaCare. I will do everything I can to help elect Ted Cruz in November and look forward to working with him next year.
In related news, Democrat Paul Sadler won his party's Senate run-off this evening. PPP's latest batch of (very preliminary) head-to-head polls showed Cruz leading Sadler by ten points. There's a very good chance that another strong Hispanic conservative is headed to the US Senate.
UPDATE - With 50 percent in, Cruz's lead has expanded to ten points. This wasn't even close.
UPDATE II - Wow. 95 percent of precincts are now reporting, and Cruz's margin is up to 14 points. Click through to watch his gracious and uplifting victory speech. Cruz has attracted more than 616,000 votes; his Democratic opponent is hovering around 137,000 tallies.