Ted Cruz Faces Serious Dem Opponent; Texas Turning?
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who was once a presidential candidate and widely popular among the state’s conservative base is facing a serious Democrat challenger in his home state. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, a three-term Congressman, still faces an uphill battle, but has raised millions of dollars for his campaign and is giving Senator Cruz a run for his money. While still an underdog as Texas has not elected a Democrat to statewide office in over twenty (20) years, he has raised close to $6.7 million dollars from contributors. “Not a dime from PAC’s or corporations or special interests. It’s just people, primarily the people of Texas, who are making this possible.” O’Rourke stated at a town hall meeting in Houston, TX.
Democrats and Pollsters seem to agree that O’Rourke’s rise seems to come from a variety of actors, including President Trump’s shockingly low approval numbers in Texas, demographic changes, and the usual “curse” of the first midterm election after a new presidency. Early voting numbers are setting off alarms in Republican circles as the number of Democrats voting early in Texas’s largest counties jumped over 105 percent from the 2014 midterms while GOP voting only increased 15 percent. O’Rourke also visited 226 of the state’s 254 counties, including Republican strongholds like Tarrant County. O’Rourke has rarely mentioned Trump or Cruz by name and has tried to stay positive.
The Republican party, however, is not showing any sign of worry from the Democratic challenger. “Beto O’Rourke’s extreme views are completely out of touch with Texas values, and if last month’s primary, where O’Rourke was unable to handily defeat his little-known primary opponents, was any indication, we are looking forward to a swift victory in November.” Said RNC spokeswoman Christiana Purves. Elected in 2012, Cruz earned national attention early when he launched an overnight filibuster style takeover on the Senate floor ahead of a government shutdown. He parlayed same into a 2016 presidential bid and challenged (unsuccessfully) Donald Trump for the Republican party nomination.
The Cruz-O’Rourke race is yet another race where very different ideologies will face off. Cruz is a firm believer of immigration laws and gun rights. O’Rourke is a strong supporter of a comprehensive immigration overhaul and has recently signed onto a new bill that would restore and build on the expired ban on military-style weapons.
In recent year, Texas has been much less Republican than those who actually register to vote, however, trends have shifted enough where Gallup polls have moved this race from “leaning Republican” to “competitive”. The first-term senator holds a 3-percentage point edge over his Democratic challenger in a recent Quinnipiac poll. A recent Texas poll taken in April 2017 has found that 46 percent of Texas voters had a favorable view of Ted Cruz while only 30 percent of voters have a favorable view of O’Rourke. 53 percent indicated they did not know enough about O’Rourke to comment.
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