TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The conservative U.S. senator from Texas is being outpaced and overshadowed by his progressive challenger, Beto O’Rourke, who is pushing to be the first Democrat in Texas to be elected to the Senate in 30 years.
Cruz and O’Rourke faced off in their first debate ahead of Nov. 6’s congressional elections at Southern Methodist University in Dallas on Friday, and Cruz’s strategy swiftly became clear: Paint O’Rourke as too radical for this traditionally Republican state.
O’Rourke, a charismatic congressman from El Paso, has benefited from an avalanche of media attention and a gusher of small donations, raising millions of dollars more than Cruz.
Cruz remains favored, but only slightly. Most polls indicate the election is now too close to confidently predict.
The race has massive implications for the battle for the U.S. Senate. Democrats need two more seats to gain control and upend President Donald Trump’s agenda. Cruz’s seat was supposed to be safe, but he conceded at Friday’s debate that he’s in a battle.
Cruz’s strategy in the debate highlighted how O’Rourke’s star-making candidacy can be been a double-edged sword for Democrats.
With his support of universal healthcare, his openness to abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and his willingness to consider impeaching Trump, O’Rourke may define the party going forward in a way that could be incongruent with more moderate Democrats who must defend their Senate seats in states that Trump won in 2016.