(CNN) - National conservatives and tea party-allied organizations congratulated Texas Republican Ted Cruz on Tuesday for winning his party's nomination for a U.S. Senate seat.
"Wow," Cruz, a former state solicitor general making his first run for office, told supporters Tuesday evening. "We did it."
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He was ahead of Lt. Gov David Dewhurst, 56% to 43%, according to unofficial early results from the Secretary of State's office. As of 1:30 p.m. ET, 85% of precincts were reporting and several Texas newspapers had called the race in favor of Cruz.
Cruz' apparent victory would be yet another win for a conservative grassroots underdog. He received the support of several high-profile Republicans, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, and 2012 GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum, each of whom headlined events for Cruz over the final weekend before Election Day.
"Congratulations to Ted Cruz!" Palin posted to her Facebook page Tuesday evening. "Our goal is not just about changing the majority in the Senate. It is about the kind of leadership we want. Ted Cruz represents the kind of strong conservative leadership we want in D.C.
"The message of this race couldn't be clearer for the political establishment: the Tea Party is alive and well and we will not settle for business as usual," she continued. "Now, it's on to November!"
Santorum said he and his political organization were "proud to congratulate Ted on his terrific victory this evening. The people of Texas resoundingly responded to Ted's strong conservative values and his message of limited government, the power of free markets, and the importance of traditional American values."
FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in a statement, "Congratulations to Ted Cruz on his victory, the latest step in the American people's hostile takeover of Washington. By rejecting the establishment's chosen successor and selecting Cruz as the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, the people of Texas now have an opportunity to send a true fiscal conservative to Washington to replace the misguided leadership that has been in power for far too long."
Club for Growth President Chris Chocola called Cruz a "champion of economic freedom" in his congratulatory statement.
Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, likened Cruz’ apparent victory to the rise of GOP star Sen. Marco Rubio.
“Just like Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted entered the U.S. Senate race relatively unknown and underfunded,” he said in a statement. “Way behind in the polls, through perseverance and the courage of his conservative convictions, he beat all odds to become the GOP nominee. Here, here Ted. On to victory in November.”
Ahead of Tuesday, the Texas political scene was abuzz over some polls showing Cruz with an advantage over Dewhurst. However, Dewhurst's campaign pointed to their internal polling which they said indicated their candidate has a narrow margin over Cruz.
Dewhurst, who has been Gov. Rick Perry's number two for nearly a decade, fell short of clinching the GOP nomination in a May primary for the seat to be vacated by Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
The race quickly turned negative, with both campaigns releasing a steady stream of attack ads and the two candidates exchanging jabs in a fiery debate last month.
Cruz put that aside as the votes came in Tuesday.
"I salute Mr. Dewhurst for his many years of public service, in the Air Force, in the CIA, and as lieutenant governor," he said. "The lieutenant governor called me just a few minutes before I came down, and he very generously offered his support for us to win in the general."
In his remarks, Dewhurst thanked his supporters.
"Thanks for standing up for Texas," he said. "Now we got beat up a little bit, but we never gave up, and we can stand tall in knowing that we never compromised any of our values.”
"We came up a little short this evening," Dewhurst added, "which is something I'm not used to, being short. But we will never stop fighting for our beloved Texas."
At a Houston rally on Friday, Palin and DeMint especially fired up the crowd with anti-establishment, anti-Washington undertones, similar refrains from those heard during the midterm elections two years ago.
While Dewhurst has spent more than three times the amount of his opponent this cycle, Cruz has been bolstered by millions in outside spending from national groups like FreedomWorks, Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund.
Dewhurst's campaign, meanwhile, highlighted his support from local conservative leaders and organizations, not national groups. In a television ad released mid-July, Dewhurst's team capitalized on anti-D.C. fever and turned it back against his opponent.
"(Cruz) is a lawyer trained in Washington. Half the money supporting Cruz comes from Washington," the ad's narrator said, later adding: "Lawyer Ted Cruz in Corrupt Washington? He'd fit right in."
Gov. Perry was also vocal in defending Dewhurst. Some political analysts viewed the race as a referendum on Perry, who critics accuse of lacking conservative credentials - a noteworthy twist given that the Texas governor entered the 2012 presidential race last year as being the more conservative option to Mitt Romney.
The Republican nominee for the seat will likely win in November, as political handicappers Charles Cook and Stuart Rothenberg both rate the state as safe for Republicans.
– CNN’s Gregory Wallace contributed to this report
Congrats Texas Tea Party on s sound victory.
El pueblo celebra su victoria del Sr. Cruz.!
Ahh... so new crazy won out over old, right-wing money. The Texas of today isn't any better than Mississippi or South Carolina – just more oil and land.
Sad day for Texas....another crazy probably going to Washingtion DC.
I love the Republican party. They howl about government by one party, the Democrats. Then, when it comes to them, they are all for one party government. I h@te Republicans more than they h@te even President Obama, and that is a whole lot.
So we may get yet another Tea Party obstructionist in Congress, willing to sacrifice the nation and its economic prosperity for the sake of giving more billionaires their tax breaks. Wonderful.
We did it! The Tea Party candidate wins. Just wait until November! Obama, Pelosi, and Reid and the rest of the "progressive" left will join the unemployment rolls. Small government, lower taxes, put America back to work, and return to our continution! Let Freedom Ring!
"Palin and DeMint especially fired up the crowd with anti-establishment, anti-Washington undertones, similar refrains from those heard during the midterm elections two years ago."
I guess that accurately sums up the final result of this nomination of a Republican candidate for the Senate. With the 2010 elected Congress operating at high efficiency, I look forward to the 2012 elected Senate operating in a similar fashion. The only thing left would be having Romney elected to complete the trifecta.
Now there's a bad dream!
I hope I am wrong but this win makes me want to throw up.
I have a wierd gut feel that if Republicans continue to strongly elect tea party conservatives wherever for either House or Senate, it will be detrimental in November House of Representatives wise , Senator wise and also Presidentially.
Swing voters do not want that kind of radical conservatism being the government.
QED Republicans lose swing voters and the November elections. I am an independent and possibly swing voter ( just one) but there are too many parts of the Republican plan that do not meet my credibility criteria especially no tax increases all spending or entitlement cuts re budget balance and debt, but also go to war again Iran and increase defense spending, already globally in the stratosphere and not needed; when we owe too much to the world already money wise..
Our largest threat is becoming an ever increasing creditor of China and the Brics, not terrorist jihad, or war(s) especially if measured (in terms of the psyche of most Americans at this time) and which QED in todays world are all unwinnable.
Texans are just not very smart.
MAybe not safe for republicans but because I haven't liked a thing that comes out of Cruzs mouth and I am against pandering to illegals to bring more illegals into control our USA....Beware America...Cross ties if the democrat is a better fit for conservative Americans....
The "derp" is strong in Texas. Sadly, primaries bring out the extremes in a party, hence an extremist Tea Partier beat a moderate Republican. Now a strongly republican state will have no choice but to vote for that extremist over an intelligent Democrat, and the United States Senate becomes more polarized and full of fundamentalist "derp".
But it's ok, Rick Perry's plan for the drought is to "pray for rain".
I live in South Carolina and we're glad our tea party senator Jim Demint could help out. He hasn't done a thing for our state, so at least it is reassuring he is doing something for someone an dnot just taking his salary.
Hey Texas, these Tea Party types are a disaster. You elect this character Cruz, then all I can say is "You get what you deserve."
"Congratulations to Ted Cruz!"
To Bad America !
I am a life long Texas resident and I do not support this guy. What is wrong with you Texas Republicans ? are you hoping for total chaos ? This guy is a nut case. Maybe right thinking Texans can elect his Democratic opponent.... W T ...
Life long Texas resident here. I fear what this guy could do. What is wrong with you Texas republicans ? Dewhurst was about comprimise to get things done, is that such an evil thing ?
49 year Texas resident and I dont understand why any right thinking Rebublican would elect this guy.
Economic Freedom. Translation – Wealth Concentration
The Texas I grew up in would not have elected such a this individual. Intelligent Texas Rebublicans need to rise up and elect his Democratic challenger in the general election. Think people...
"Tea Time with the Cannibals", now showing on Fox Noise.
Tonight we spotlight BBQ delicacies from the great Republic of Texas, a right conservative hog sausage served with wingnuts.
Another Tea Party Nazi. Wonderful. Just what we need (sarcasm).
who are these fools who vote these crazies into power?
not another cuban in congress....UGH........we shall see in november
If Cruz wins in November, get ready for some really mean politics in the US senate. That is the last thing America needs.
I'm no longer a conservative (moved to middle where the sane people are), but this couldn't have turned out any worse than it has. Hardly a day goes by that I don't rip into governor Perry verbally over something (certainly not his "lack" of conservative credentials-those are as intact as the $4 billion he took from Texas public schools)
BUT David Dewhurst has served Texas honorably, and would have made a fine complement to John Cornyn. Now, it looks like we'll have to endure six years of Koch boy Cruz. When will people realize that the Tea Party is a national party funded by well-connected billionaires masquerading as a grassroots movement?
Think about it: You spend hundreds of millions of dollars to 1. Win Citizens United, which is the most anti-citizen Supreme Court decision since Plessy-Ferguson 2. Get your people elected with your unlimited contributions 3. Make sure your elected guys start dismantling the only force that can compete with you in a post-Citizens United world-the unions.
Don't get me wrong. If Democrats had done this, I would be calling them un-American. The fact is, we're headed for a Fascist takeover by people who claim to love this country and its "traditional values" (whatever that means)