Cruz claims victory in Texas runoff for US Senate nomination
July 31st, 2012
10:49 PM ET
9 years ago

Cruz claims victory in Texas runoff for US Senate nomination

(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."

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

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

Filed under: Republicans • Senate • Texas
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Lee

    Another crazy one... The last one wasn't crazy enough, not confrontational enough and republicans want wild men now.

    August 1, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  2. Jonquil

    Now, all of Texas - not just the dim Conservatives - has a chance to not vote for a Tea Party Republican in the Fall. Look at what they've done to The House. They are unable to function in our government and under our Constitution.

    Our government has worked pretty well, for a very, long time. If you cherish heritage, what our country was built upon, don't back a Tea Partier. In all practical and tangible ways, they are fundamentally against America and The American People, as one Nation.

    August 1, 2012 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  3. Snooze70

    Another step down the slippery slope to fascism. How sad and how preventable.

    August 1, 2012 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  4. David

    A crook replaceing a crook.... Yay!

    August 1, 2012 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  5. Nutcase

    Sheer American stupidity. You know education standards is going down the drain when the Tea Party wins. Soon earth will be declared a square because our fore fathers thought so.

    August 1, 2012 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  6. GOP=

    Hmm.. this guy is enthusiastically endorsed by Palin, DeMint and Sanrtorum.. this can't be good for anybody.

    August 1, 2012 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  7. Orwell sees it, again & again

    In Texas evolution plays out with survival of the species, the teapublicans devour the hypocripublicans to secure conservative moxie, territory and mating rights.

    August 1, 2012 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  8. josh holt

    Is it just me.....or would you not want an endorsement from Perry right now if you live in Texas. He has cut everything yet we still have budget issues. All public services of Texas have been hurt since Perry has been in office but Rich people thrive. Very "Game of Thrones" like Rick Perry...bravo.

    August 1, 2012 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  9. CTYank

    In P.T. Barnum's day there was a "sucker born every minute." Nowadays there are many more.

    Maybe they can't see where the cash flows. Or don't care.

    August 1, 2012 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  10. BeverlyNC

    So Republicans have put up another Tea Party extremist to enter our government. Have the People not yet seen the damage of these uneducated, no clue how our government works, obstructionists of all legislation that have kept our economic recovery at a crawl?? It's amazing how a group of People would vote for candidates who plan to destroy the middle class, kill all People programs from Medicare to Social Security to food stamps to public education to veteran benefits and pensions and start more wars with other people's children as sacrificial lambs while increasing our debt, creating corporate dictatorships and further empowering the corrupt wealthy who already have too much power. By the time they figure out they have been made fools of – all they have will be gone.

    August 1, 2012 04:47 am at 4:47 am |
  11. James Klimaski

    "Underfunded"? The Cruz campaign is a clear example of large sums of money from a few anonymous individuals controlling the election message. We no longer know who will be running the show. And now money can come from foreign sources as Romney held a fundraiser in Israel. Maybe after the Conventions, Romney and the Tea Party candidates will hold a fundraiser in Bermuda and other offshore tax havens. The Republicans in Congress who are allowing this have sold out our Country. Traitors!

    August 1, 2012 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  12. RD

    Another landslide victory by a conservative candidate. When does the mainstream media admit they can't influence grass roots politics? Another example of them getting it wrong (remember 2010 elections). They're calling close November 2012 Senate and presidential races.... grassroots f think conservative landslide!.

    August 1, 2012 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  13. GI Joe

    Ignorance runs ramp ant in Texas. don't they realize that will put yet another obstruction in D.C? Don't they care? I guess not – after all, they get back more from the gov't than they pay in - easy money for TX.

    August 1, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  14. jack

    God help us – another crazy right wing nut...

    August 1, 2012 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  15. johnmenacherjr

    So how much money did our "Job Creators" spend on this Norquist stooge? And how many people are uninsured in Texas? And how does this work with the artificial economy they have from D.O.D. ?

    August 1, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  16. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I was kind of hoping for money to be spend by these crazy (at times) heartless conservatives. I love it when they sling mud at each other.

    August 1, 2012 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  17. mb2010a

    Texas really needs a Democratic Senator to replace Hutchinson in the Senate, not another Republican. After all the mud that was brought up by this Republican primary, the Democrat should have a real chance at taking the seat...

    August 1, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  18. Dave

    Just more proof of the dumbing down of this country.

    August 1, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  19. some guy in New Hampshire

    Oh goody. Another right-wing wacko who thinks that Congress is the place for crusades against ideological demons instead of a group that can work together in good faith to negotiate solutions to problems. I hear Ecuador is a nice place to live...

    August 1, 2012 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  20. DFW Dann

    These two candidates did their best to race to the far right to see who could be the more extreme; Cruz won and Texas lost.

    August 1, 2012 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  21. artraveler

    Super-hatred wins over normal old hatred and another TP loser goes to Washington to further clog the ability of the country to get out of the Texas-gov-prez's Depression. Wow-you people never learn.

    August 1, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  22. swing state voter

    Scary. Wake up Texas.

    August 1, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Michael Q wrote on page 1:

    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.
    Typical Tea Party delusions and solipsism. Congress is not operating at high efficiency. On average, roughly 800-900 bills will get passed over the two year term for a House member. Truman's "do nothing Congress" had only passed a little more than 500 bills. So far the Tea Party Congress has only passed 110.

    So when Barack Obama campaigns on a "do nothing Congress", he really means it. The Tea Party has brought government to a virtual stand still. They have added to the problem to such a degree that they have become the problem.

    August 1, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
1 2