One of the nation’s most high-profile Senate races has a winner: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
NBC News, ABC News, The New York Times, Politico and CNN have all projected that Cruz will defeat Democrat Beto O’Rourke to win re-election to a second term in the U.S. Senate.
While a Cruz victory was predictable, it was far from certain, according to polls leading up to Tuesday’s midterms. Texas’ deep red history means that it should’ve been a landslide for the senator, 47, but instead, he never secured a lead of more than nine points over the progressive O’Rourke, 46. The state hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.
Cruz’s bid for reelection has been colored by his complicated relationship with the president, which started when they fought to the bitter end for Republican presidential nominee in 2016. That said, they’ve both endorsed each other since. Cruz supported President Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton (though it took him a while), and in October, Trump event attended a rally in Texas to show his support for Cruz. Before traveling to Houston, the 45th commander in chief changed his nickname for the incumbent from “Lyin’ Ted” to “Beautiful Ted.”
Since Trump entered office, the pair have worked together to “deliver on our promises,” Cruz said in an episode of ABC’s This Week. Unlike Trump, though, Cruz has refused to call him a friend.
Although Cruz came out victorious, experts doubt this is the last the U.S. will see of O’Rourke. Since he won’t occupied by the senate position, some are predicting he will run for president against Trump in 2020 — though he said on Monday that was not his plan, according to MSNBC.
The two men competing over this seat in many ways represented opposing American ideals. O’Rourke’s campaign championed far-left values built off his “cool guy” image (he rides a skateboard and used to play guitar in the punk rock band Foss), whereas Cruz, to many, stood for traditional Texan politics.
The Republican, who ran for president in 2016, has held his Senate seat since 2013. Initially a critic of Trump, Cruz now supports much of the president’s agenda, including ending birthright citizenship, despite showing past support for the issue. O’Rourke was polling behind Cruz an average of 6.5 points, according to Real Clear Politics.
This race was one of four opportunities for Democrats to flip Republican-held seats. The other races are between Republican Sen. Dean Heller vs. Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen for Nevada senator, Rep. Marsha Blackburn vs. Former Gov. Phil Bredesen for Tennessee senator, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema vs. Rep. Martha McSally for Arizona senator.