San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

Republican Senate Candidate and Tea party Favorite Ted Cruz after a runoff election at a hotel in Houston. TEXAS TRIBUNE PHOTO by MICHAEL STRAVATO

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» Hays County July 31 primary runoff election results [pdf]

by AMAN BATHEJA

Defying all early expectations and upending long-standing conventional wisdom in Texas Republican politics, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz handily won the Republican runoff for an open U.S. Senate seat Tuesday night.

He moves on to the general election against former state Rep. Paul Sadler, who defeated retired educator Grady Yarbrough in the Democratic runoff.

Cruz defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst after a lengthy, contentious political battle in which Cruz painted a longtime statewide elected official backed by Gov. Rick Perry as a moderate.

“Tonight is a victory for the grass roots,” Cruz said Tuesday night. “It is a testament to Republican women, to Tea Party leaders and to grass-roots conservatives.”

In a short concession speech, Dewhurst said he was proud of the race he had run.

“We got beat up a little bit, but we never gave up,” Dewhurst said. “And we stand tall in knowing that we never compromised any of our values.”

In a statement, Sadler made clear that he will fight for Dewhurst’s supporters ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.

“Tonight, I stand alone as the only nominee of a major political party in Texas because the Texas Republican Party has been hijacked by the Tea Party,” Sadler said in a statement.

The fight for the GOP nomination to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison drew strong national interest and more than $45 million in spending, making it the nation’s most expensive nonpresidential race of the election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

From the start, the race appeared to be Dewhurst’s to lose, as he had held statewide office for more than a decade and had millions of dollars in personal wealth at his disposal to outspend any opponents. But many influential activists aligned with the Tea Party were unimpressed with Dewhurst’s record and could not shake the feeling that he would crumble to pressure from moderates once in Congress.

Cruz also benefited from protracted legal fighting over last year’s congressional and legislative redistricting maps that pushed the Texas primary from March to May and the subsequent runoff to July. The longer primary gave Cruz more time to introduce himself to the state’s Republican voters.

Though Dewhurst and Cruz agreed on practically every major issue, the race still managed to draw passions on both sides as the race turned largely on the candidates’ temperaments and records.

Cruz, a Cuban-American, Harvard-educated lawyer who worked on George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign and later for the Bush administration, centered his Senate campaign on his five-plus years as Texas Solicitor General under Attorney General Greg Abbott. In fiery speeches, he cited his work on cases dealing with states’ rights, gun control and religious freedom as a “proven record” of “fighting for the U.S. Constitution.” Conservative stars including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., endorsed Cruz’s campaign.

Dewhurst, who has served as lieutenant governor since 2003, pointed to a long list of conservative legislation passed under his watch, as well as his experience as a businessman and service in the Air Force and CIA.

Cruz relentlessly criticized Dewhurst as “timid” and a “moderate,” accusing him of raising state spending and blaming him for conservative measures not becoming law.

Texas Republican leaders including Perry and more than half of the Texas Senate endorsed Dewhurst and accused Cruz of distorting Dewhurst’s legislative record and, simultaneously, their own records as well.

Dewhurst attacked Cruz for some of the clients he has taken on as a private lawyer and painting him as a “Wasington insider.” He described millions spent by the Club for Growth and other anti-tax groups to boost Cruz’s campaign as out-of-state meddling from people who didn’t care about Texas. None of the attacks seemed to blunt momentum for Cruz.

On the Democratic side, Sadler adopted some of Dewhurst’s criticism of Cruz on Tuesday night, describing the Republican nominee as “untested, untried and unknown to the vast majority of Texans.”

Yarbrough, who has never held elected office, said he would support Sadler in November. The perennial candidate surprised many by making it into the Democratic runoff. Though he invested much of his personal savings into his campaign, he said he didn’t regret entering the race.

“I enjoyed it quite a bit, tremendously,” Yarbrough said. “You never know how elections are going to go. Sometimes they go the way you think they’re going to go and sometimes they don’t.”


AMAN BATHEJA reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.

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6 thoughts on “Cruz defeats Dewhurst, will face Sadler in fall

  1. Even the Hays Free Press had their own take on the elections. Why can’t we get anything but cut and paste articles from the SMM?

  2. Get off my case, dude.

    I’m sure you’re making a point, Intrepid, but I honestly have no idea what it is. Texas Trib stories aren’t run here in place of local content but in addition to it.

  3. Keep up the good work, Brad. I found interest in all of these stories and frankly, don’t give a damn where they came from. They provided the information I was looking for and I did not have to go to another website to find them.

  4. Thanks, Curtis, for reading and participating in the discussions. I love doing what we do and people are responding.

    — In the first half of 2012, the Mercury had 190,958 visits and 93,197 unique visitors. We had more than 930,000 pageviews.

    — In the first half of 2012, we had 81,516 visits that originated in San Marcos; 12,051 that originated elsewhere in Hays County’ and 24,581 that originated in Austin. Other top cities include San Antonio, New Braunfels, Seguin, Round Rock and Georgetown.

    — Each time someone logs on to smmercury.com, they visit an average of 4.88 pages, which is an incredibly high retention rate. People find content and conversation that interests them at the San Marcos Mercury and they stick around. Content from our Texas Tribune news partners is an important part of the mix we offer.

    — I can’t wait for San Marcos to see the first issue of Bobcat magazine, which will be distributed up and down the I-35 corridor the weekend of Aug. 25. Wes Ferguson, who recently joined us from the Hays Free Press, is editing the magazine and he’s assembling something truly special that I think people are going to eat up.

    I’ll let you know more about where to pick up the publication closer to time. (There’s still time by the way to get in on marketing your business in Bobcat magazine. Send an email to our advertising director, Melissa Jewett, at melissa@smmercury.com for information.)

    I accept that as we continue to strengthen our market share in San Marcos, we’re going to me a more attractive target for anonymous sniping. On the other hand, I get tons of constructive, critical feedback and I do like hearing from readers what we can do better.

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