On Tuesday, Texas Republican voters head to the polls in the state's Senate GOP runoff to determine the fate of rising Tea Party star Ted Cruz, in an election that holds major implications for the future of the Texan GOP establishment.
Polls close at 9 p.m.
Just 18 months ago, former state solicitor general Cruz was a long-shot to win the Texas Senate seat, but now he looks poised to pull off the biggest upset of the 2012 election by taking down the well-known and well-financed lietenantt governor David Dewhurst.
In a new poll released Monday, Cruz holds a 10-point lead over Dewhurst. A Cruz victory would represent a major repudiation of Texas governor and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, who has supported Dewhurst, and a major victory for Sarah Palin, who has supported Cruz. According to the Public Policy Polling survey, 31% of voters say they would vote for a candidate endorsed by Palin, compared to only 24% who say they're more likely to vote for Perry's choice.
Part of Cruz's resurgence came from his tremendous fundraising abilities; he outraised Dewhurst more than 3-1 during the first third of the month and attracted $5.5 million on independent expenditures from the anti-tax Club For Growth. He also received acclaim from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and George Will.
The contest has been dubbed as a showdown between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment, and a Cruz victory would represent a significant victory for the Tea Party. His win would mean that Republican voters are rejecting conservatives tied to the establishment, something which could open the flood gates to other Republican outsiders challenging establishment candidates in 2012.
PolicyMic will be covering the results of the Texas run-off live. For real-time results and analysis, check back and refresh this page.
UPDATE: 10:30 PM: How Ted Cruz Won, from PolicyMic Pundit Charlie Vidal:
Tuesday night’s victory for Ted Cruz is a message that will send shockwaves throughout the Republican Party. The people of Texas spoke loud and clear that they know that a moderate dealmaker endorsed by the Republican establishment is not going to bring meaningful change to a state so badly in need of some. What Tuesday tells us is that contrary to the prophecy of James Carville, the Tea Party is not dead. The left can no longer assume that the Republican Party will help them grow the size and scope of government, albeit at a pace slower than they would prefer. Cruz represents a faction of the Republican Party consisting of conservatives and libertarians who realize that without drastic policy changes, the United State will soon more closely resemble the bankrupt welfare states of Europe than the shining city on a hill. He will be sent to Washington with a mandate to reduce the burden of government, and restore the principles of the constitution.
A seasoned political strategist once told me that an incumbent always has two things, “votes and quotes.” While Cruz, the newcomer had few of either, GOP rival David Dewhurst tried to pretend he had neither of both. Dewhurst spent much of the campaign vehemently denying his support for a wage tax, which the Wall Street Journal called a backdoor implementation of a statewide income tax, despite his urging its passage. Dewhurst has also taken a page out of Obama’s playbook of manipulating the past by deleting records from his Lieutenant Governor Website showing that he once supported amnesty.
What is most astonishing has to be Cruz’s path to victory and what it means for the Tea Party nationwide. Cruz didn’t win by outspending Dewhurst, although he certainly found support from conservatives nationwide. Cruz overcame his early deficit in the polls by building a grassroots machine that reached out to his supporters, and activated them in a way few Republican campaigns ever have. The Cruz campaign might serve as a blueprint, or redprint, as to how the Tea Party will have a permanent impact on the direction of politics in America. Most importantly, this was all done in the second most populous state in the union, meaning the lessons learned here could be applied on a national scale.
10 PM Ted Cruz Wins!
From the Washington Post: 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.
9:45 PM Cruz still holding strong: With 30% reporting, Cruz now looks like he's running away with this race.
9:30 PM With 20% reporting, Cruz pulling ahead
9:15 PM 10% reporting
9:02 PM With 7.1% reporting, Cruz still up. This should be a close one, though, tonight.
8:52 PM 4.4% reporting: Cruz 53.4% (277,729) vs. Dewhurst 46.6% (241,902).
8:45 PM With 251 precincts reporting, Cruz holds a steady advantage over Dewhurst: 52.35% vs. 47.64%. Lots of precints left to count.
8:35 PM Results are largely unchanged, even though 214 precincts are now reporting.
8:26 PM Now 168 Precincts are reporting, and Cruz is beginning to open a more firm lead, ever so slightly. Numbers check here:
8:19 PM Now 50 counties have reported and it's neck-and-neck. Cruz leads Dewhurst 51.55% to 48.44%.
8:12 PM Here we go. We'll be reporting these numbers in real time:
8:08 PM It's still very early, but results have begun to come in for the Texas race. Here's the initial tally (0% reporting):
7:58 PM Here's what one Texas voter, Matthew Gross, is saying about tonight's election: "Despite a 10 percent deficit at the late May election and no political campaigning experience, Cruz is going to pull this one out and turn both the pre-runoff deficit and Texas Republican establishment on their heads. Thanks to Cruz’s fervent grassroots support base (the typical ingredient for a runoff success), big name endorsements from Tea Party favorites (in what is looking to be an open hunting season for Tea Party challengers; e.g. Indiana and Nebraska), and loads of Washington money -- Cruz has this election in the bag."
7:35 PM Ted Cruz is making a final appeal to voters via Twitter to come out to the polls. No activity from David Dewhurst on Twitter:
7:18 PM On the same day that Ted Cruz is likely to defeat Dewhurst, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was selected as the first Latino keynote speaker at the DNC Convention in North Carolina. ABC News reports on the likely rise of two Latino figures from opposite parties in Texas.
7:15 PM Election returns begin to come in at 9:00 p.m. EST. We will be providing timely analysis until then. Stay tuned.
7:00 PM Just under two dozen supporters swarmed U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz as he gave a 30-minute speech outside Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church on Sage Road Tuesday morning, ahead of the biggest vote of his political career. Details here.
Tuesday 6 PM: James Hohmann, author of "Morning Score" (Playbook for the 2012 races), reports: "[T]ea party favorite Ted Cruz appears on the verge of a huge upset in Texas today. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was the prohibitive favorite, but his consultant-heavy team thought they could clear 50% in the initial primary and did not adequately prepare for a runoff. Lots of help from outside groups and national conservatives like Jim DeMint give Cruz clear late momentum, even as the Dewhurst campaign claims their internals show the establishment favorite ahead."
Tuesday 4:30 PM "Stark choice for GOP voters in Texas Senate runoff," by AP's Will Weissert in San Antonio: "The question ... isn't whether a Republican will likely succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison in the U.S. Senate, but what kind of Republican? The answer figures to reverberate far beyond the Lone Star State . ... Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst [backed by the old guard] faces a major threat from [tea party backers of a conservative insurgent,] former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz. ... [T]he battle is ... too close to call. ... Dewhurst's allies include Gov. Rick Perry. Cruz is being backed by Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, ... Sarah Palin ... Glenn Beck and ... Dick Armey
Tuesday 3 PM Why Nobody Wants to Vote For David Dewhurt: PolicyMic Pundit Charlie Vidal lays it all out: Today, Ted Cruz is widely expected toupset Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the Texas Republican Senate Runoff Election.
The eight weeks since Cruz sent the election to a runoff by garnering enough of the vote to keep Dewhurst below 50% have been particularly nasty. Dewhurst, whose campaign staff expected to be on vacation now, has been unable to drum up grassroots support and is instead relying on blanketing Texas’ airwaves with negative ads. Dewhurst’s campaign has tried to paint Cruz as a communist sympathizer, and a pro-Dewhurst SuperPAC put out the “Nastiest ad of the campaign cycle” blaming Cruz for a Pennsylvania teen’s suicide.
Texas voters, however, have not responded positively to these ads from camp Dewhurst. A source close to Cruz’s phone-banking operation told me that “we have noticed a large number of people who have said that there is no way they would vote for Dewhurst due to the absurdly negative campaign ads he has run.”
In contrast to Dewhurst, who has pumped millions of dollars of his personal fortune into the campaign, Cruz is the candidate of the grassroots who built up his base by attending local Republican meetings and Tea Party rallies. This means that Cruz has a strong base that is fired up to vote in the primary, as evidenced by the fact that he leads the latest poll 63% to 33% amongst voters who are “very excited” to vote in the runoff. With an electorate that is tired of a vicious campaign, and a wave of momentum behind his campaign, Cruz is widely expected to spend today dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s on his way to the Senate.
Monday 5:30 PM Democrats Paul Sadler and Grady Yarbrough are also in a runoff on Tuesday for their party's Senate nomination (5 things to watch here).