Establishment Republicans lost another one on Tuesday night as upstart Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz snatched the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in a primary runoff that at the end of the day was anything but a nailbiter.
Cruz handily defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst by a stunning 13-point margin in a resounding end to a bitter race that saw attack ads on both sides. Cruz, a former state solicitor general, took 56.8 percent of the statewide vote while Dewhurst, who was elected Texas lieutenant governor as a political newcomer in 2002, garnered only 43.2 percent.
Cruz has a heavy advantage now going into the November election to replace the seat vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison as Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.
Cruz handily defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst by a stunning 13-point margin in a resounding end to a bitter race that saw attack ads on both sides.
He faces Democrat Paul Sadler, former chairman of the House Public Education Committee, in the November elections.
"This was a victory for the grassroots," Cruz told the crowds at his televised victory celebration in Houston.
Cruz, 41 and a newcomer to elective office, found support in the suburbs and major urban markets. In Harris County, he took nearly 64 percent of the vote to Dewhurst's 36 percent. Both men call Houston home.
Dewhurst enjoyed the support of party stalwarts like Gov. Rick Perry but Cruz found support in the conservative grassroots and Tea Party advocates who argued that their candidate was much more conservative than Dewhurst, who, in spite his record presiding over the most conservative state Senate in modern history, was cast as a moderate.
It was one of the more closely watched races across the nation, as Cruz represented just the latest in a series of upsets by Tea Party-backed candidates in the last few years.
In a prepared statement, Perry called Cruz “a force to be reckoned with” and praised his campaigning skills and the energy he solicited from the grassroots in Texas.
Among Cruz’s supporters were national Tea Party darlings including Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, who bashed Perry at a campaign stop in The Woodlands last week.
Hutchison released a statement on Tuesday congratulating Cruz on his win.
“In the coming months, I will do everything I can to support the election of Ted Cruz to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate and be available to him for any questions that will prepare him for the issues he will face,” she said.