Harrison Burns–Staff Writer
Ted Cruz finds himself in an unexpectedly close race for the Senate against his Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke.
In the aftermath of the Republican domination in the 2016 elections, the months leading to the 2018 midterms have seen a growing surge in Democratic voters. This surge has been deemed the “Blue Wave,” referring to the spike of anti-Republican support that many Democrats hope will result in midterm victories, to overturn the House and possibly even the Senate. Ted Cruz’s seat is one of these potential opportunities for a flip from red to blue.
The growing uncertainty of Cruz’s future in the Senate has shocked the nation, as Cruz is one of the most well-known and influential conservative politicians of the past decade. He was the main challenger to Donald Trump during the 2016 primaries, even campaigning here at Dordt’s campus in Spring 2016. But even in the traditionally conservative stronghold of Texas, Cruz is lacking momentum.
Momentum is instead being carried by his challenger Beto O’Rourke, who has served in the House of Representatives for six years, the same length Cruz has served in the Senate. While O’Rourke is still trailing Cruz in most polls, he has steadily been gaining percentage points as the race progresses, even leading by two points in a mid-September Ispos-Reuters poll.
O’Rourke offers a stark contrast in policy to Cruz’s strident conservativism. He is a strong proponent of Universal Healthcare, new ideas for gun regulation, flexible immigration reform, and many other progressive policy cornerstones.
The race itself has garnered uncommon national attention, with O’Rourke appearing with the likes of Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher on late night television programs. O’Rourke has made use of the spotlight, repeatedly pointing out his refusal to take corporate PAC money (unlike Cruz) and his extensive outreach to all 254 counties within Texas while Cruz prioritizes his time in D.C.
Senator Cruz has also launched his own barrage of criticism against O’Rourke, particularly as the race continues to tighten. From O’Rourke’s socialistic agendas to his blunt critiques of law enforcement, Cruz has used his opponent’s unconservative and sometimes extreme positions as ammunition in the political battle. Cruz has also elevated the race into a fight for the heart and culture of Texas, stating in one rally, “[Democrats] want us to be just like California, right down to tofu and silicon and dyed hair.”
With only a month left in the contentious campaign, both candidates are ramping up their bases to vote in what could be the closest U.S. Senate race from Texas in decades. Even President Trump will be going to the Lone Star State in October to rally for his former rival. O’Rourke has exploited this unlikely alliance as a criticism against Cruz’s character, calling back to the 2016 elections when Cruz called Trump a “sniveling coward” and Trump’s infamous nickname for the senator, “Lyin’ Ted.”
With one heated debate already completed, the senator and congressman are set to clash in two more debates before Election Day which will likely add to the political drama. It is uncertain how successful the Blue Wave will be in the results of the 2018 midterms, but the energetic competition of O’Rourke against Cruz is certainly a testament to its genuine power.