Story by LizzIe Thomas | Staff Writer, Video by Melanie Pace and Emma Whitaker | Broadcast Reporters
After a close race that has brought a debate for Texas identity and values to the forefront, Rafael “Ted” Cruz has been re-elected to the US Senate, beating Robert “Beto” O’Rourke by 2.6 percent statewide and 23.26 percent in McLennan County.
Cruz is widely known for his tough stances on gun control and immigration.
With the win, Cruz kept alive his hopes of mounting a second presidential run once Trump leaves the White House.
In his victory speech, Cruz said his win affirmed that he won the “battle of ideas” against O’Rourke over issues like taxes, regulation and jobs.
“All the money in the world wasn’t a match for the good people of Texas,” he said, while also acknowledging that millions of people across the state were inspired by O’Rourke’s campaign.
“Thank you, Texas! Now let’s get back to work and defend jobs, freedom and security for Texas and America!” Ted Cruz said in a Facebook post.
Texas is a predominately red state historically. David Bridge, Baylor associate professor of political science and undergraduate program director, told the Lariat via email that there may have been some uprisings within Democratic communities, but they were swimming against a strong tide. Though Cruz’s win was predicted, Bridge said the polls generally indicated that Cruz was going to win — albeit by a narrower margin than usual.
“While Republicans are happy to gain the victory, both parties are looking at the circumstances that allowed the campaign to be as expensive and lengthy as it was,” Bridge said.
Dr. Patrick Flavin, Baylor associate professor of political science, said that O’Rourke’s campaign was cautiously optimistic and was hoping for a bigger voter turnout. Even after his loss, Beto was optimistic in a live speech on Facebook Tuesday night.
“I don’t know any other way to say this other than El Paso, I love you so much. I am so proud of you and this city and this community and what you mean to the rest of this country and what you have achieved tonight,” Beto said. “The kindness, the generosity that you have shown to me … is amazing. I know that we will continue to work to together, to make sure we live up to the promise and the potential of this country.”
Neal Dikeman, the Libertarian candidate for Texas senator said running was never about winning.
“We did this to send a message,” Dikeman said. “Obviously if we had an opportunity to win, that’d be great. We’re going to change the outcome of this race and that’s going to allow you and every other voter in Texas to decide whether they win or lose.”
Though many people may not know his name, Dikeman took his role seriously in the viral race.
“We had about a dozen media organizations tell us our voters were likely to determine the race,” Dikeman said Monday. “Undetermined which way, if the race is actually as close as Congressman O’Rourke thinks it is, Libertarian voters are likely to determine whether he wins or Sen. Cruz wins.”
According to polls by FiveThirtyEight, Texas was a tipping point race and the margins were so close that small portions of voters choosing Dikeman, who would otherwise vote Republican or Democrat, could have decided who won, according to Dikeman. By taking votes away from one candidate or the other, Dikeman affected the results with 0.8 percent of the votes.
“We’ve already had a dramatic impact on the race,” Dikeman said. “If you go to nealdikeman.com, you can look and see some of the things we’ve done. Among them is the largest campaign finance violation and complaint in US history [which we filed].”
Dikeman’s campaign attempted to fine CNN $10 million for campaign finance violations in attempt to drive money out of politics, according to Dikeman. He also states that his campaign purposely changed CNN’s narrative and the narrative of the race.