DALLAS — Texans are catching their breath and digesting the last 24-hours with Democrats wondering what more could Beto O'Rourke have done and Republicans relieved after realizing that Ted Cruz dodged a political bullet.
Despite a loss, O’Rourke turned Texas a little more blue. "The suburbs that Republicans have relied on for so many years – the Collin counties, the Denton counties, Tarrant County, Williamson County outside Austin – those were a little bit crumbly. They had some blue streaks in them. That surprised Republicans and I think it put them on their heels a little bit,” explained Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune.
Democrats have talked for years about the Castro brothers – Joaquin and Julian – as their rising stars. But the twins would never take on well-funded Republicans here.
Instead, it was Beto O’Rourke, a former city councilman in El Paso who did what Democrats at first doubted anyone could do -- energize a weary base, connect with independent voters and outraise Republicans.
"We want to say a big thank you," said O’Rourke in his Senate campaign’s final Facebook Live on Wednesday.
But is this the last of him? "I do know that Texas Democrats and national Democrats see a star here and would like to figure out where he plugs in to their future plans," Ramsey added.
Still, a win is a win and Ted Cruz now emerges battle hardened, a political survivor who remains a national Republican star. "I wouldn't be surprised if Texans see a lot more of Ted Cruz in the next six years at barbecues, Rotary Clubs and Chamber of Commerce luncheons. He's got some patching up to do here clearly. He would like to perform at least as well as Greg Abbott did this time around. He's got some talking to do," Ramsey said.
"Millions across this state were inspired by [O’Rourke’s] campaign. They didn't prevail and I'm grateful the people of Texas chose a different path. But let me say to all those who were inspired, that I am your senator as well. My responsibility is to represent every Texan,” Cruz told supporters at the Hilton Post Oak Hotel in Houston last night.
After brutal television attack ads in the final weeks of the campaign that is what Texas needed to hear. “Congratulations to Ted Cruz and to everyone who worked on the Ted Cruz campaign, everyone who voted for Ted Cruz. I can't tell you how many times Amy and I met a Ted Cruz supporter who had a nice thing to say to us,” O’Rourke added on Facebook Live Wednesday.
That’s an interesting and unreported anecdote which suggests Texans are likely closer than we often imagine.