Ted Cruz, a political newcomer in Texas backed by Sarah Palin, beat Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the Republican primary runoff to replace U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is retiring.
Cruz won 54 percent of the vote today to Dewhurst's 46 percent, according to preliminary results from the Associated Press. The former Texas solicitor general overcame poor name recognition to rally Tea Party supporters and defeat one of the state capital's best-known political leaders.
"I think everyone has been trying to tell the Republican establishment, and the Democratic establishment, that we're not happy with what they're doing," said Joe Mahoney, a retired business owner from Athens, an East Texas city of about 13,000.
The victory may give Cruz, 41, a lock on becoming the state's first Latino senator. No Democrat has won a statewide Texas vote since 1994. Palin, the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, told a rally near Houston last week that in Washington, Cruz would help "rein in our out-of-control government."