Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Solicitor General Ted Cruz will compete in a runoff for the open Texas U.S. Senate seat at the end of July, after neither won a majority in Tuesday’s primary election.
Given the demographics of the state and the lack of a viable Democratic candidate, whoever wins the primary is widely expected to win the seat.
A runoff was expected. Dewhurst was considered the frontrunner, with high name identification and deep pockets, but Cruz had enthusiasm on his side. The former Solicitor General is a conservative super star, drawing support from movement conservatives across the country.
According to Democratic strategist Harold Cook, earlier Tuesday, Dewhurst’s campaign team had been calling around to people who had voted early, and based on what they heard, believed that the lieutenant governor would break 50 percent this evening.
But although Dewhurst had 48 percent of the vote in the most recent poll of the race, Cruz was able to keep him from reaching the 50 percent threshold.
With the primary falling the day after the Memorial Day holiday, at the start of the summer, and months later than Texas normally holds its primary, low turnout was expected, and that benefited Cruz, who draws support from the more conservative parts of the party — the people most likely to turnout in any condition. (RELATED: Palin endorses Cruz in Texas GOP Senate primary)
That advantage is expected to be amplified in a runoff, which would be held July 31, deep into the summer.