Cruz-O'Rourke Senate race may hold insight on future politics of Texas
Beto O'Rourke gains momentum on Senator Cruz; Casey Stegall shares an update on the race.
DALLAS – Most political analysts can usually agree on one thing: Texas is a state that practically "bleeds red," as it has for decades.
But in recent election cycles, there's been much talk about the Lone Star State potentially going purple.
And now, a Texas congressman is trying to do what no Democrat has been able to do here in nearly 25 years -- win statewide office.
Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke from El Paso, elected in 2012 to serve Texas’ 16th Congressional District, is battling it out with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, aiming to capture Cruz's seat come November.
"We're listening to and bringing in everyone -- Republican, Democrat, independent -- everyone in Texas is important," O’Rourke tells Fox News.
His message appears to have some resonance with voters, with polling data showing O’Rourke within striking distance of Cruz.
According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, Cruz has a six-percentage-point lead -- 49 percent to 43 percent. But some polls suggest a tighter race. A recent Texas Lyceum poll put the spread at just two points.
That's unusual, analysts say, and some now wonder if it’s the first sign of Texas beginning to make that political shift.
"The normal Republican margin in Texas these days is somewhere [around] 14, 15 points," says Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
"Senator Cruz is awake, at this point," Jillson adds.
The incumbent himself says he doesn’t get too wrapped up in the “noise” because he’s been on the bottom before.
"When I ran in 2012, nobody in the state thought I could win," Cruz explains. “I told the people in Texas, 'If you elect me, i will fight for you.' And I believe I've kept that promise.”
Now the mudslinging has ensued.
Cruz's first TV ads came out at the beginning of this month – accusing O’Rourke of being extreme and reckless. The Democratic challenger countered with a fundraising drive -- raking in more than $1 million in a few days -- to help fund ads with a more "positive" spin.
In the meantime, both continue crisscrossing the state, trying to win over voters.
A series of debates will be held in the coming months.
“Everyone in Texas is important. Everyone has a place in this campaign,” O’Rourke says.
The junior congressman has also consistently outraised Cruz on campaign cash. In the most recent quarter alone – he raked in $10.4 million in contributions – compared with Cruz's $4.6 million over the same period.
With the November elections inching closer and closer, all of the stops are being pulled out. Cruz is even trying to get his former rival, President Trump, to campaign for him.
The two had a rocky relationship during the GOP presidential primaries in 2016, when Trump nicknamed Cruz "Lyin' Ted." And the Texas senator called then-candidate Trump a "narcissist," among other things.
Casey Stegall joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2007 and currently serves as a correspondent based in the Dallas bureau. He previously served as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.