News, Politics

Ted Cruz defeats Democrat Beto O’Rourke in Midterms race for US Senate

Republican Ted Cruz has fended off Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s long-shot challenge to take his Senate deeply conservative Texas.

Cruz, 47, who was first elected to the Senate in 2010, successfully rallied Republican voters to offset Democratic anger over President Donald Trump.

The result helped end Democrats’ hopes of taking control of the Senate.

But Democrats took over the U.S. House of Representatives, according to media projections, setting the stage for a divided Congress.

O’Rourke, a 46-year-old former punk rocker and three-term U.S. congressman, smashed an 18-year-old fundraising record – raising $61.8 million during his campaign, almost twice his rival’s $35.1 million.

He fell short by several percentage points on Tuesday, after significantly trailing Cruz in opinion polls for most of the year.

Cruz declares victory (Image: REUTERS)
Cruz hugs his wife Heidi (Image: REUTERS)
Texas elected a Democrat to the Senate in three decades.

The crowd at O’Rourke’s election night party quieted as word of his loss spread through the room.

But some held out hope that O’Rourke still had hope to run for higher office.

“Dems need to put Beto up again,” said Dan Malvaez, a 57-year-old resident of El Paso who works in radio production. “Two years from now, throw him in to see what happens with the presidency.”

O’Rourke embraced the Democratic Party’s liberal wing, supporting universal healthcare and expressing openness to calls to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).

Cruz, of Houston, feuded with Trump during his unsuccessful 2016 White House run, with then-candidate Trump labelling him “Lyin’ Ted”.

But Cruz has since embraced the president’s agenda, backing his tough immigration policies as well as his push for tariffs aimed at lowering the U.S. trade deficit.

Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke raised record campaign funds (Image: MICHAEL WYKE/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Cruz’s elction night party in Texas (Image: REUTERS)

During the campaign, Cruz painted O’Rourke as out of step with the priorities of conservative-leaning Texans.

The Democrat also called for reform of gun laws, including stricter background checks and a ban on assault-style rifles.

Cruz criticized O’Rourke for that in a state where guns have long been part of the culture.

Texas last elected a Democratic U.S. senator in 1988, when Lloyd Bentsen won his fourth six-year term in office. Bentsen stepped down in 1993 to become Treasury secretary under Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Five months later, the Democrat appointed by then-Governor Ann Richards to succeed Bentsen was voted out in a special election.

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