It is a given that within the Democratic Party, there would be a major celebration if somehow the republican tea party Harvard graduate Ted Cruz of Texas would lose his seat in the US Senate.
Until this year of 2018, this thought would have been nothing more than a fantasy. What has changed the dynamics in the upcoming November 2018 US Senate elections’ race, is the arrival on the scene of a true star, Beto O’Rourke.
It’s been more than two decades since a Democrat has won a statewide election in Texas. In the latest attempt, state Sen. Wendy Davis spent about $40 million dollars but she lost the governor’s race in 2014 by over 20 percentage points to the Republican opponent, Greg Abbott.
Now comes Beto O’Rourke, a three-term congressman from the far west corner of the state, challenging the political Goliath from the right, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a tea party icon who proved to be Donald Trump’s most enduring rival in the Republican presidential primaries of 2016.
Taking advantage of the energy of a resurgent Democratic base along with his savvy use of social media; and his work ethic of traveling to all parts of the state where he speaks both English and Spanish to listen to potential voters, Beto O’Rourke has been able to best Senator Cruz in the money chase. As of April 2018, he has raised $13.2 million dollars, more than any other Democratic candidate in the State of Texas, and he has accomplished this feat without any monies from super-pacs, special interest groups, etc.
Mr. O’Rourke’s has been busily working away as he crisscrosses Texas trying to rally long-marginalized Democrats, independents, first-time voters, Latinos, the anti-Trump “resistance,” and anyone else who might have grown weary of post-Trump Republicanism.
Here is the rest of the story…
On April 3, 2018, Manny Fernandez of the New York Times penned the following report, “In Texas, Ted Cruz Is Facing an Unusual Challenge: A Formidably Financed Democrat”
“Senator Ted Cruz of Texas kicked off his re-election campaign this week with a new Texas-themed slogan and a new video, but something else that was entirely new went largely unspoken — a formidable and well-funded Democratic opponent.”
“For the first time in Mr. Cruz’s rise to political prominence in Texas, he is facing a serious Democratic challenger, Representative Beto O’Rourke from El Paso, who has stunned political observers by raising more money than any Democrat who has ever run for a Senate seat in Texas.”
“Mr. O’Rourke, a former punk-rock bassist and El Paso city councilman, has raised $13.2 million in the race so far, and outraised Mr. Cruz in three of four Federal Election Commission reporting periods. (Mr. Cruz has not yet reported his latest fund-raising.) In the first three months of 2018, Mr. O’Rourke raised $6.7 million, more than any other Democratic Senate candidate in the country in that period.”
“Mr. O’Rourke’s campaign has given Texas Democrats a burst of hope. They view Mr. Cruz as politically vulnerable and disconnected in Texas after his failed run for president, especially as anger against President Trump rises even in red states such as Texas. And they see in Mr. O’Rourke — an Irish-American congressman who is fluent in Spanish and has gone by Beto, a Spanish nickname of Roberto, since childhood — a model of the future of the Texas Democratic Party.”
“It’s kind of Ann Richards-level enthusiasm, in the crowds he gathers,” said Harold Cook, a Democratic strategist in Austin and former executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, referring to the outspoken Democrat who served as Texas’ governor from 1991 to 1995 before losing to George W. Bush. “I haven’t seen a response like Beto O’Rourke is getting in a very long time. Beto has got that thing, that star-power deal that you can’t predict in advance.”
“On Monday (4/2/18), Mr. Cruz formally began his re-election campaign at a venue that has become one of his favorite political backdrops — the Redneck Country Club in Stafford, 17 miles southwest of downtown Houston. His speech and his surroundings were plastered with references to his new campaign slogan: “Tough as Texas.” It is meant to evoke the resilience of the state as it reeled from and united in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.”
At a campaign event on Tuesday night in San Antonio, Mr. Cruz acknowledged Mr. O’Rourke’s success in fund-raising and the challenge for Republicans this November.
“That’s a whole lotta money — there’s no doubt about that — and it has been clear for some time that the hard left is energized and they’re mobilized and they’re angry at the president, ” Mr. Cruz said, according to The Texas Tribune. “And we are seeing all across the country, the far left giving millions of dollars to liberal Democrats running for office, and it underscores that Republicans cannot take November for granted.”
“Mr. Cruz remains popular with Texas conservatives, particularly the Tea Party activists who helped him, back in 2012, clinch the Senate seat by defeating one of the most powerful Republicans in Texas, David Dewhurst, then the lieutenant governor. And Republicans continue to dominate Texas, culturally and politically, controlling both chambers of the Texas Legislature, the governor’s mansion and all of the more than two dozen statewide-elected offices. Democrats have not won any statewide offices since 1994.”
“Right now, history and recent elections are still on Ted Cruz’s side, and the dynamics of this state are still on Ted Cruz’s side, for Republicans to win at a statewide election from the governor’s office to senator and on down,” said Ted Delisi, a Republican strategist in Austin who was the national field director for former Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign.”
“At an event in Waco on Tuesday, Mr. O’Rourke suggested to The Texas Tribune that one of the differences between his race and Ms. Davis’s failed bid for governor in 2014 was the backlash against the Trump White House. “She did not have the benefit of this year, where, I hope you’ll agree, we’ve never seen this level of urgency, this level of motivation,” Mr. O’Rourke said.”
“Asked if he was running against Mr. Cruz or Mr. Trump, Mr. O’Rourke replied, “Neither.” He added: “I’m not running against anybody. That just doesn’t get me going. It doesn’t energize me.”
“Republicans say they are not worried about an upset but are certainly paying attention. They point to the 2002 race for governor, when the Democrat, Tony Sanchez, a Laredo oil executive, spent $67 million and lost to Mr. Perry. They said that Mr. Cruz’s reputation among Texas conservatives took a knock in 2016 after he refused to endorse Mr. Trump at the Republican National Convention, but that Mr. Cruz had largely repaired the damage.”
“On Monday, Mr. Cruz and Mr. O’Rourke jabbed at each other on social media. Mr. O’Rourke’s campaign posted a Snapchat filter of a Cruz event in Beaumont and took a swipe at Mr. Cruz’s failed presidential run. “Ted Cruz visited 99 of Iowa’s 99 counties,” read the filter, which included an image of a frowning Mr. Cruz. “When’s the last time he listened to Texans in Beaumont?”
“But Mr. Cruz wasn’t taking the bait. He responded on Twitter, saying he had been to the city four times in the past year while pointing out Mr. O’Rourke’s failure to win Jefferson County, which includes Beaumont, in the Democratic primary. “As best I can tell, you’ve been there once for a drive-by campaign event on Feb 9,” Mr. Cruz wrote on Twitter of Mr. O’Rourke. “Maybe that’s why you lost Jefferson County in the Dem primary.”