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>> There's no doubt people are frustrated. I'm frustrated because->> Ted Cruz made a strong run at the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Now he's fighting to hold on to his Senate seat, facing a surprising challenge from Democrat Beto O'Rourke in Texas. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where analysts say O'Rourke poses a legitimate threat in a state that should be safe Republican territory.
He's been raising more money than Cruz. And a new poll shows that the race is a statistical dead heat. Now, Cruz is still seen as the favorite to win the November election. But the very fact that this race is competitive at all is yet another warning sign for Republicans across the country who will be face voters this fall.
Democrats haven't won a statewide race in Texas since the 1990s. And O'Rourke was seen as a marginal candidate when he announced his bid last year. The former punk rocker refusing to take corporate dollars and calling for Trump's impeachment. He wants to legalize marijuana and ban assault rifles. He's been running a grass roots campaign with little help from the national party, visiting 237 of the state's 254 counties so far.
Now there are signs that he may be breaking through. Last week the Quinnipiac poll showed the race as too close to call, an unthinkable development only months ago. Cruz is taking the threat seriously, attacking O'Rourke in a radio ad and urging conservative voters to get engaged. Democrats stand a good chance of winning the House of Representatives in November, but they face longer odds in the Senate.
They're playing defense across the country, trying to protect incumbents in states like Indiana, where President Trump is popular, making O'Rourke's rise in Texas all the more welcome. Democrats have dreamed of flipping Texas for decades, but right now the state isn't at the top of their list. They've got better prospects in places like Nevada, Arizona, and Tennessee.
But keep an eye on Texas. O'Rourke is making the Republicans sweat, which could force them to spend millions of dollars that otherwise they would spend elsewhere. So even if he comes up short, he helps the Democrats nationwide, giving them a greater chance of winning control of both chambers of Congress this fall.