AUSTIN (July 31, 2012)—Tea party backed Ted Cruz defeated Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a runoff election Tuesday for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
In November Cruz will face Paul Sadler, who served in the state House from 1991 to 2003.
Sadler defeated Grady Yarbrough Tuesday in the race for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination.
Sadler issued a statement Tuesday night calling on Cruz to debate.
"Nobody has won anything tonight. That is why tonight I am challenging Mr. Cruz to meet me face to face, man to man in every region of the state and debate the issues. I challenge him to not hide behind super PAC billionaires, consultants, spokesmen and spin doctors," he said.
Texas hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.
The last time Texans sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate was 1988.
Cruz, the state’s former state solicitor general, lost the May 29 primary by a large margin, but forced the runoff because Dewhurst fell short of a majority.
Cruz painted Dewhurst as a timid career politician who’s too willing to compromise with Democrats and the race was seen as a national test of the tea party's influence.
Dewhurst represented the mainstream GOP choice and had the backing of Gov. Rick Perry, but tea party activists and conservative leaders from across the country supported Cruz.
Their funding and grassroots organizing helped him overcome Dewhurst's financial advantage and name recognition.
The Tea Party Patriots hailed Cruz’s victory Tuesday.
“Ted Cruz’s come-from-behind, tea party-supported victory is further proof that Americans are no longer willing to tolerate elected official delivered to them by the political and special interests that are responsible for so many of the problems we have in Washington and across our nation,” said Jenny Beth Martin, the group's co-founder and national coordinator.
Some observers have suggested that a Cruz victory might complicate things for the state’s junior senator.
But Sen. John Cornyn issued a statement Tuesday in which he congratulated Cruz for “a well-deserved and well-earned victory.”
“With a strong, hard-working ally in Ted Cruz, we will work to pass a balanced budget amendment, remove the federal government’s boot off the neck of our small businesses, and repeal-and-replace ObamaCare. I will do everything I can to help elect Ted Cruz in November and look forward to working with him next year,” he said.
Retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, whom Cruz hopes to succeed, pledged her support Tuesday night.
“In the coming months, I will do everything I can to support the election of Ted Cruz to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate and be available to him for any questions that will prepare him for the issues he will face," she said.
Texas voters also decided three statewide Republican runoff races Tuesday.
Christi Craddick defeated Warren Chisum in the GOP runoff for the Texas Railroad Commission.
Barry Smitherman defeated Greg Parker in the Republican runoff for an unexpired term on the Railroad Commission.
Smitherman will face Democrat Dale Henry in November.
John Devine defeated incumbent Place 4 Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina Tuesday in the GOP runoff.
A crowded field of primary candidates virtually guaranteed a runoff in a newly drawn Central Texas congressional district that includes part of Bell County and all of Bosque, Coryell, Hamilton, Hill and Lampasas Counties.
Former Texas Secretary of State and Republican activist Roger Williams defeated former Army officer and tea party activist Wes Riddle Tuesday.
Williams issued a statement Tuesday night in which he said he was humbled.
“The voters have responded to my message of replacing Obama’s liberal values with the conservative values that made America great. I will work hard to earn the support of other like-minded voters in the general election. This is our opportunity to take our country back and start limiting the size and power of the federal government,” he said.
He faces Democrat Elaine Henderson in November.
Veteran State Rep. Sid Miller of Stephenville lost Tuesday to J.D. Sheffield of Gatesville Tuesday in the Republican runoff for the District 59 seat in the Texas House.
Sheffield will face Democrat Bill Norris in November.
Kyle J. Kacal defeated Tucker Anderson Tuesday in a close GOP runoff race for the new District 12 seat in the Texas House.
He faces Democrat Robert Stem of Marlin in November.
Central Texas voters were also deciding a runoff race for the District 10 position on the State Board of Education between Tom Maynard and Rebecca Osborne.
Osborne was leading by a little more than 200 votes late Tuesday night.
The winner faces Democrat Judy Jennings in November.
Longtime McLennan County Tax Assessor-Collector A. F. “Buddy” Skeen was soundly defeated in a three-way GOP race in May and on Tuesday Randy Riggs defeated Jeff Nickell in the Republican runoff.
Curt Donaldson defeated Shawn Nixon in the GOP Precinct 2 constable runoff.
Eddy Lange defeated Bob Patterson Tuesday in a runoff in the GOP race to succeed retiring Sheriff Dan Smith.
He’ll face Democrat Frank J. Hernandez, Sr. in November.
Jack Jones defeated Mary Black Pearson in a GOP runoff race for 146th State District Judge.
Bill Schuman defeated Martin “Marty” Janczak in the GOP race for the Precinct 3 seat on the Bell County Commissioners Court.
He faces Democrat Billy Ray Crow in November.
Voters in Coryell County went back to the polls Tuesday to decide a runoff race for the Precinct 1 seat on the County Commissioners Court
Jack Wall defeated Larry Riddle Tuesday.
Freestone County voters decided a Democratic race for the Precinct 3 seat on the County Commissioners Court in which Michael Daniels defeated Keith Brackens.
He faces Republican Bodie Emmons in November.
Incumbent Hill County Sheriff Jeffrey Lyon lost his reelection bid Tuesday in a GOP runoff with challenger Michael Cox.
Cox faces Edward Leon Rhoudes in November.
Milam County Sheriff David Greene survived a Republican runoff challenge Tuesday from Greg Kouba.
The election Tuesday marked the third time Texas voters have gone to the polls since city-school elections were held on May 12.
A legal fight over the state’s new legislative and congressional districts delayed the Texas primary election until May 29 and shifted the runoff to July 31.