U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to a crowd of people at a campaign stop Tuesday afternoon at La Hacienda Scenic Loop.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks to a crowd of roughly 70 people at a campaign stop Tuesday afternoon at La Hacienda Scenic Loop. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) acknowledged after a San Antonio campaign event Tuesday that his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso), had raised “a whole lot of money” during the year’s first quarter, but said Republicans still hold a voter turnout advantage.

Cruz’s stop in San Antonio came on a notable day for O’Rourke, who said Tuesday morning that his campaign raised $6.7 million during the first three months of 2018.

“That’s a whole lot of money, there’s no doubt about it,” Cruz told reporters after his remarks at a fundraiser at La Hacienda Scenic Loop. “It underscores that Republicans cannot take November for granted in Texas.”

Cruz said he believes there will be record Democratic turnout in the fall, but that there isn’t enough liberal support in Texas to turn the state blue, despite the $6.7 million donated to his opponent’s campaign from across the state and nation this year. Cruz cited the turnout of more than 1.5 million Republican voters compared to 1 million Democratic voters in the March Texas primaries as proof.

“Running a campaign to the far left, like Congressman O’Rourke does, will do wonderful if you’re trying to raise money in Hollywood,” Cruz said after his remarks. “But it’s not going to earn the vote of Texans.”

Cruz formally launched his statewide re-election campaign Monday. His San Antonio stop came during a tour of 12 cities across the state through Wednesday. Cruz did not mention O’Rourke or his campaign contributions during his remarks.

Instead, Cruz delivered his “Tough as Texas” re-election message to a crowd of roughly 70 people, spending nearly half an hour discussing acts of heroism by Texans and conservative values, and stressing the importance of Republican support amidst an energized Democratic party.

Cruz lauded first responders who worked in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. He also recalled conversations with Stephen Willeford, the Sutherland Springs resident who engaged in a gunfight and pursuit with Devin P. Kelley, who killed 26 congregants gathered inside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs during Sunday services on Nov. 5.

“Stephen ran to his gun safe and pulled out his rifle, an AR-15,” Cruz told the crowd. “He didn’t even take the time to put his shoes on to get to the church.”

Cruz also discussed Democrats seeking to repeal the Second Amendment, pointing to a recently published op-ed in the New York Times written by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

“We want to see the Second Amendment protected and enforced,” said Cruz, who grew up in Houston. “There are an awful lot of Washington Democrats who agree with Justice Stevens, and agree with the New York Times. They just don’t have the candor or honesty to say that.”

O’Rourke has said he wants to implement universal background checks for gun purchases, ban semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, and outlaw bump stocks, the accessory attachments that essentially turn semi-automatic rifles into automatic ones.

“[O’Rourke] has called for banning one of the most popular rifles sold in America, and that’s a perfectly respectable view in Boston, Massachusetts,” Cruz said after his remarks. “I don’t think it reflects the views of the vast majority of Texans.”

During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, Cruz placed second behind Donald Trump. O’Rourke has cited that race in criticizing Cruz, and released a Snapchat geofilter during Cruz’s Tuesday event that stated “Ted Cruz visited 99 of Iowa’s 99 counties” before asking, “When’s the last time he listened to Texans in San Antonio?”

After his Texas-centric speech, Cruz spent nearly half an hour meeting and speaking with attendees.

“Texans are strong, are independent, love freedom, defend freedom, and Texans are tough,” Cruz said after his remarks. “Those are the values that they expect in their elected representatives.”

Jeffrey Sullivan

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.