While most political handicappers predict the Democratic Party will win sweeping victories in the November mid-term elections, few would believe Texas’ Senate race would produce a challenge which could derail the political career of Ted Cruz.
Trailing Cruz by only a few percentage points according to the latest polling, a Beto O’Rourke victory would shift the political tectonic plates in a way unseen in Texas for decades.
No Democrat has served Texas in the Senate since Lloyd Bentsen resigned his seat to serve the Clinton administration in 1993.
One of 11 Democrats serving in the 36-person Texas delegation in Congress, O’Rourke has held a seat in the House representing El Paso in the state’s 16th Congressional District since 2013.
An anti-Trump progressive, O’Rourke served two terms on the El Paso city council before being elected to the House of Representatives in 2012. Prior to his foray into politics, O’Rourke worked in the tech industry in New York City and later founded a web software development company upon his return to West Texas.
A critic of Trump’s immigration policies, O’Rourke also favors unrestricted abortion, legalizing marijuana, limiting corporate money in politics and regards healthcare as a “basic right.”
Although a virtual unknown, O’Rourke gained national attention for supporting NFL players kneeling to protest alleged police brutality and alleged systemic racism.
Aligned politically with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, both of whom scored stunning upsets over long-serving Democratic House members, O’Rourke is fast becoming the face of the Democratic Party.
With Republican domination in Texas now in jeopardy, the national GOP money machine is reaching deep into its pockets and headlining fundraisers for the Houston native Cruz.
“We’re not bluffing, this is real, and it is a serious threat. If Ted does his job and we do ours, I think we’ll be fine. But if we have donors sitting on the sidelines thinking that, ‘Well, this isn’t all that serious,’ or ‘I don’t need to be concerned,’ then that’s a problem,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
In near panic mode, President Trump, a long-time nemesis of Cruz, is scheduling a visit to assist in Cruz’s reelection bid.
Others mobilizing campaign dollars to aid Cruz are the Republican Policy Committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Bluegrass Committee and a host of Senate colleagues.
To match O’Rourke’s $2.8 million spent on advertising, the GOP and its affiliated groups have infused Cruz’s political war chest with donations ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.
A conservative favorite, Cruz is now the beneficiary of donations from Tea Party Patriots and Club for Growth, both of which backed Cruz in his first campaign for the Senate in 2012.
[Politico] [RealClear Politics] [Rolling Stone] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy Fox 26 Houston]