Senator Ted Cruz. Texans will continue hearing that phrase for another six years.
On Tuesday night, Cruz, a Republican, clinched victory in a narrow race against Democrat Beto O’Rourke and Libertarian Neal Dikeman for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Cruz earned 51 percent of the vote statewide to O’Rourke’s 48 percent. Dikeman rounded out the field with 1 percent of the vote.
Cruz led in most polls ahead of the election, but the margin of his support began to tighten as election day approached. O’Rourke, an El Paso native who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives and on his local city council, was boosted by a heavy media presence and strong fundraising. O’Rourke raised heavily from Democratic donors nationwide and appeared on several national television shows in the lead up to the election, boosting his name recognition nationwide.
Following the announcement he would earn a second term, Cruz said he believes the result is a mandate that voters support his actions in the Senate.
“This was an election about hope and about the future of Texas,” Cruz said. “And the people of Texas rendered a verdict that we want a future with more jobs and more security and more freedom.”
O’Rourke also took the stage at his watch party in El Paso, saying he remains optimistic for the future of Texas.
“I am as inspired, I'm as hopeful as I have ever been in my life, and tonight's loss does nothing to diminish how I feel about Texas and this country,” O’Rourke said.
Locally, all three candidates made appearances in Amarillo ahead of the election. Cruz visited Amarillo several times from August through October, with O’Rourke making the trip to Amarillo several times, as well. O’Rourke first visited Amarillo in April 2017, shortly after announcing his campaign, and made Amarillo a frequent stop on the campaign trail. Dikeman also visited Amarillo, attending the Amarillo Pioneer Candidate Forum and speaking with reporters at KAMR-TV in October.
The work put in by the candidates showed on election night in Potter and Randall Counties. In Potter, Cruz topped O’Rourke, 68 percent to 31 percent, while he beat the El Paso Democrat in Randall County by a larger margin, 79 percent to 20 percent. Dikeman earned about 1 percent in both counties.
Cruz dropped several percentage points this year from his first electoral showing against Democrat Paul Sadler in 2012. In that race, Cruz won 71 percent to 26 percent in Potter County, and 83 percent to 15 percent in Randall County. Libertarian John Jay Myers won about 2 percent in both counties during that race.
Overall, the result of the race was close throughout the evening in Texas. Cruz and O’Rourke traded the lead several times in the contest, with rural counties reporting later in the evening solidifying Cruz’s support. Cruz’s numbers were also buoyed by straight-ticket Republican voters in multiple rural counties. For example, nearly 58 percent of voters cast a straight-ticket Republican ballot in Randall County.
In the run up to election day, the race in Texas began to attract national attention. President Donald Trump made a trip to Texas to campaign for Cruz, and O’Rourke became a viral sensation due to a series of videos on issues like NFL players kneeling for the National Anthem. The national interest continued into election night, with #Beto2020 trending on Twitter following the announcement of Cruz’s victory, as voters and celebrities tweeted their support for a possible O’Rourke presidential run. O’Rourke has repeatedly denied he will run for president in 2020.
Cruz’s victory continues the political career of the conservative-favorite politician. Cruz first jumped into the political scene in 2012, defeating Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in a surprise upset during a Republican runoff for the open U.S. Senate seat. Cruz then went on to defeat Sadler and Myers in 2012, winning 56 percent statewide. Later, Cruz made a bid for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, catching fire with wins in states like Iowa. Cruz went on to be the runner-up for the presidential nomination, finishing with 25 percent of the national vote behind the eventual winner, Trump. Following the election of Trump in 2016, there were rumors the newly-minted Republican president would select Cruz as his nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, although Trump eventually selected Judge Neil Gorsuch for the role.
The victory by Cruz came as Republicans were able to hang on to control of the U.S. Senate, with forecasts showing they will add seats to their majority. Current projections from the New York Times, have Republicans winning between 53 to 54 seats in the Senate, which at its high end, could return Republicans to the majority number won during the Republican-heavy election year of 2014. This was boosted by Republican pickups of Democratic-held seats in North Dakota, Missouri, and likely Florida. Meanwhile, in addition to Cruz, Republicans were able to retain Republican seats targeted by Democrats in Tennessee and Arizona, according to current projections.
Cruz will now serve in the U.S. House through 2025, if he chooses to serve out his full term. Cruz’s fellow Republican, John Cornyn, will be up for re-election to his Senate seat in 2020.