By Rachel Rose Hartman
Ted Cruz clinched the Republican nomination in the Texas Senate runoff race Tuesday night, handing the tea party a major victory and instantly becoming the odds-on favorite to win the open seat this fall.
Cruz, a Cuban-American lawyer who formerly served as state solicitor general, received 56 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst with 82 percent of precincts reporting.
“Tonight is a victory for the grassroots. It is a testament to Republican women, to tea party leaders and to grassroots conservatives,” Cruz said in his victory speech. “This is how elections are supposed to be decided–by ‘we the people.'”
Dewhurst, who was backed by Gov. Rick Perry, easily dominated the nine-candidate May 29 primary with 44 percent of the vote. But he failed to receive the majority required to avoid a runoff against second-place finisher Cruz. Due to significant tea party support and grassroots exposure, Cruz was able to stay competitive against Dewhurst, who remained well-funded and well-connected.