It's already shaping up to be one of the most interesting political races heading into the fall: Ted Cruz versus Beto O'Rourke.
Congressman O'Rourke easily won the Democratic primary Tuesday night. He's drawn national attention in his bid to unseat Senator Cruz.
Some expected O’Rourke to flourish from a “blue wave” of Democratic votes on Tuesday. Yet already, some fear that wave wasn't strong enough.
O'Rourke nabbed 62 percent of the vote. He avoided a runoff. Some had expected more glowing results. Others feel that some of the other numbers out there show he's in good shape as he heads into an interesting race this fall.
Senator Cruz hit instantly with a statewide radio campaign aimed at his opponent Congressman O'Rourke.
SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson says it's just the start of what's bound to be an exciting race.
“Ted Cruz came out of the election last night swinging a big knife,” Jilloson said. “Beto O’Rourke said, ‘Let’s calm down. Let’s be reasonable. Let’s just talk about this stuff.’ I think he's going to need to match his intensity.”
The charismatic young congressman has been slogging around the state aggressively rounding up votes. Although he finished first in the primary, some had expected more. But Jillson says expectations may have been too high.
“He did well, but not astoundingly well,” the professor said. “I guess some people are disappointed. I think we have a long way to go until November.”
Jillson believes O'Rourke will benefit from Hispanic voters who might have been attracted to his primary challenger Sema Hernandez.
“I think the Hispanic voters who voted for Sema Hernandez are going to come home to him. Not much question about that,” Jillson said.
The hurdles for O'Rourke will be high. Senator Cruz is a formidable name, nationally. The seat wouldn't be easy for any Democrat to grab.
“He is going to raise a lot of money in Texas and nationally,” Jillson said. “Beto O'Rouke will raise money, too. But he'll struggle to keep up.”
Jillson still thinks Cruz is the likely victor in the race but agrees that a lot can happen between now and the general election.