Republicans David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz are headed for a runoff election in the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Lt. Gov. Dewhurst captured 45% of the statewide GOP vote; Cruz, the state’s former attorney, had 34%; former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert received 13%; sports analyst Craig James had 4%.
With more than a decade in state government, the most name recognition, and money Lt Governor David Dewhurst had hoped to trounce his eight Republican opponents and capture the Senate nomination without a runoff.
Listening to Ted Cruz at his election night party in Houston you’d never guess he came in second.
Cruz: Wow. We did it.
Cruz credits his recent endorsements from Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum as well as national Tea Party support with forcing Dewhurst into a one-on-one match up.
Cruz: This race is ground zero in the battle between the moderate establishment and the conservative Tea Party tidal wave that is sweeping this country.
At his Houston victory party Lt Gov. Dewhurst generally ignored Cruz and talked about taking Texas budget-cutting know-how to Washington.
Dewhurst: Tonight we Texas Republicans said we’re going to repeal Obamacare. We said we’re going to stop the out-of-control spending in Washington. If you like Texas you are going to love the job I’m going to do for you in Washington.
Although Dewhurst bested Cruz by double digits in the primary vote, that lead may tighten as the focus narrows to two candidates and the campaign slips into summer when only the most loyal supporters vote.
In recent weeks Cruz and Dewhurst have traded accusations over immigration, Dewhurst’s spending record in Austin and attorney Cruz’ work for a Chinese company accused of stealing patents.
Tuesday night Cruz challenged Dewhurst to a series of five debates
Cruz: If he wants to make the case to the people of Texas that he thinks I’m an amnesty-supporting, China-loving, pinko liberal then I encourage him to do so-in person.
Cruz has blasted Dewhurst for skipping candidate forums. Dewhurst hasn’t said how many times if any he’ll debate Cruz in this second round.