Ted Cruz Wins Senate Race, Holds Off Challenger O’Rourke

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has fended off rising-star Democrat Beto O'Rourke to win re-election in a much-watched Texas Senate race.

In his victory speech, Cruz said O'Rourke "worked tirelessly" and that millions of people across the state were "inspired by his campaign."

Cruz spoke Tuesday at his victory party shortly after clinching his second term in a race that was closely watched nationally.

Cruz told his supporters that "Texas saw something this year that we've never seen before."

Ultimately, he said, Texans came together behind "a common-sense agenda of low taxes, low regulations, and lots and lots of jobs."

For 20 months, Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke crisscrossed the Lone Star State drumming up support for his campaign against junior Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

On Monday, heading into Election Day, both Cruz and O'Rourke said they were feeling confident the outcome in the surprisingly tight race would be in their favor.

"We are going to win," a confident Cruz declared in a rally in Pearland Monday morning. At a rally in Houston, O'Rourke said, "I feel good about what Texas is doing right now. I feel good about the decision that Texas is about to make."

In recent weeks Cruz embarked on a two-week bus trip through Texas,  making several stops a day to rally his constituents. During the same period, O'Rourke employed much of the same strategy he has all along, visiting as many Texans as he can in every corner of the state.

Election Day, O'Rourke began the morning by casting his own ballot with his wife and three kids by his side. Throughout Election Day, he continued to visit polling locations around El Paso to turnout the last votes of the day. O'Rourke said the campaign will not stop until the polls close at 7 p.m., Mountain Standard Time.

Speaking to reporters on Election Day, O'Rourke said, "We're going to be fiercely focused on the future and we're going to do this together."

"We just do not care about the differences between us right now. We want all of us Republicans and Democrats and Independents alike to come together and do something great for this country," said O'Rourke.

Along the way the candidates met for two debates, one hosted by NBC 5, SMU and The Dallas Morning News, and another hosted by KENS-TV in San Antonio. In both, the candidates clashed on a number of topics including abortion, the #MeToo movement, the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, immigration, the border wall proposition, gun control and health care.

A third debate was canceled when it was believed the Senate may have been needed in Washington to vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation.

In the final months leading up to Election Day, O'Rourke's fundraising reached more than $38 million through September; the challenger's warchest was estimated to be worth more than double that of Cruz. Still, most polling suggested Cruz maintained a slim lead of four to five points.

Whatever the turnout on Election Day, it's unlikely to be the political end for either candidate. Cruz has made it clear he'd like to end up in the Oval Office after President Donald Trump leaves office and there's been speculation O'Rourke may be tapped to run for higher office even if he loses in Texas.

After record early voting in Texas brought nearly 5 million people to the polls ahead of Election Day, it's unclear how many people will turn out to vote on Tuesday.

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