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Could Texas Have an Alabama-Style Senate Upset in 2018?

Alabama's special election for U.S. Senate ended in an upset Tuesday night, as Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore in the deeply conservative state.

Texas has a Senate race in 2018, and it will likely be a different story.

Sen. Ted Cruz remains popular in the Lone Star State and has more than $6 million in his campaign coffers.

Cruz was first elected in 2012, pulling off a major upset in defeating then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a Republican primary runoff. Now, Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, of El Paso, is hoping to pull off an upset of his own. He says he has a straight-forward approach for facing Cruz.

"It is not a sophisticated strategy, and it's as simple and really as old as democracy itself: getting out, getting after it, meeting the people that I want to represent and serve, going to their communities," O'Rourke said.

O'Rourke's campaign is well underway. He is traveling throughout the state and plans to hit all 254 Texas counties. But Cal Jillson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University, does not expect an Alabama-style upset here in Texas.

"Assuming Ted Cruz doesn't make any mistakes in this race, or no serious disqualifying mistakes, he is going to win in the mid-teens probably. O'Rourke is not going to defeat him unless Cruz stumbles," Jillson said.

Last spring, after it appeared O'Rourke was planning to run, Cruz spoke to NBC 5 about the upcoming campaign.

"There is an old phrase that there are two ways to run: scared and unopposed. Until I am the latter, I will continue to be the former, and so I am going to continue to work each and every day to earn the votes, to earn the support of men and women across the state," Cruz said.

On Wednesday, the senator's campaign said they were not concerned that what happened in Alabama would affect this race. His campaign is expected to go into high gear early in the new year.

Cruz has four Republican opponents but none are major names.

"I think what Alabama showed Texas Republican incumbents is that they have got to pay attention, that they have got to run hard, all the way through," Jillson said.

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