In an underdog victory of David and Goliath proportions, Ted Cruz beat out Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the Republican candidacy to the U.S. Senate in Texas, according to the Associated Press, which said that he led with 10 points after about half the votes were counted.
Cruz, 41, is surely to become the third Cuban-American elected to the Senate, joining fellow Republican Marco Rubio (FL) and Democrat Robert Menendez (NJ). Texans are not expected to elect a Democrat, something they haven’t done in almost 20 years.
The Tea Party, anti-establishment Cruz—who is known for his fiery speeches and potent presence—had momentum and the lead in several polls going in. Early indications from absentee ballots and pre-Election Day voters indicated he would win and AP reported later that with 48 percent of precincts reporting, he led Dewhurst 55 percent to 45 percent.
“I don’t know that there’s any other community to do that,” said Cardenas, whose group endorsed Cruz and raised funds for his campaign.
U.S. Congressman David Rivera (R-FL) said the upset was history making and shows Latinos could gain ground as conservative Republicans, not just as Democrats.
“Tonight’s results demonstrate that America is, indeed, the land of opportunity and that the Republican Party is the party of opportunity, particularly for Hispanics who possess a philosophy of fiscal responsibility and economic growth for all Americans,” Rivera told VOXXI late Tuesday over the telephone from a cab in D.C.
The come-from-behind victory for the state’s former Solicitor General over not only Dewhurst and his $24 million, but also Gov. Rick Perry and the GOP establishment that stood behind the one-time frontrunner, is seen by some as a sign of the Tea Party’s coming of age.
“The people of Texas want their collective voice to be heard loud and clear in Washington,” said Ovilla, TX, schoolteacher Janet Oliver Allen, who voted for Cruz. “I think it’s a lot like the old Country and Western song that says, ‘Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of life (love).’ So I changed a word or two…but I do think that for many Texans, the Tea Party represents the basics that we grew up with.”
Oliver was one of the Cruz swing votes. “I was still undecided a few days ago and was leaning more toward David Dewhurst,” she told VOXXI. “I feel like Ted Cruz did not tell the whole truth about some issues, but at the end of the day, which candidate really does?
“I am so very tired of ‘business as usual’ throughout our government, and decided in the end that Cruz was probably less of an ‘establishment’ candidate than was Dewhurst. We need to have people in Congress who will represent their constituents and not just vote the way they feel is popular.”
Texas State Rep. Raul Torres called it “a true Rocky Balboa story,” referring to the Sylvester Stallone movie about an underdog boxer.
“Here’s a guy who had no name i.d., no money. He put his name in over a year ago,” Torres told VOXXI. “He did it the old fashioned way. Shaking hands, kissing babies.”
Torres said he first met Cruz two years ago at someone’s home in Round Rock, TX.
“I thought to myself, ‘This guy is the real deal.’ Here we are now with him providing the biggest upset in American history.”
In a speech to supporters, Cruz thanked his wife Heidi, but not until after he thanked the PACs FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, which spent millions to help him against Dewhurst’s financial advantage.
Elected Lt. Gov. in 2003, Dewhurst—was painted as too down the middle, not conservative enough—called Cruz Tuesday night to concede, the Republican Senate candidate told his volunteers and friends.
“He very generously offered his support for us to win in November,” Cruz said in his speech, which was broadcast on Ustream.
In it, he talked about Ronald Reagan, “who spoke out against the oppressive evil that is communism, and demanded ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall’.”
Cruz recognized the unpaid volunteers for what he said was a victory for the grassroots movement, also hinted at the significance of the Tea Party in the election.
“We are witnessing a great awakening,” he said. “Millions of Texans, millions of Americans are rising up to reclaim our country, preserve liberty and restore our constitution,” said the Harvard-educated attorney who served as a law clerk under U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist.
Torres told VOXXI that Cruz had been guided into politics by his mother, who took him to a special school as a child, where he would learn about the Bill of Rights.
“Ted is a brilliant Constitutionalist. He memorized the entire Constitution at an early age,” Torres said.
Cruz seemed to indicate in his speech that he will use those skills when he reaches Washington, D.C.
“Today, liberty is threatened, government spending is out of control,” Cruz said, adding that the group had to turn their attention to the general election in November to elect Republicans nationwide “to repeal every single word of Obama’s.”
VOXXI West Coast Correspondent Tony Castro contributed to this story.