By Olivia P. Tallet.


Cuban-American Ted Cruz, a rising star within the Republican Party in Texas, will face off in a run-off election for his party's Senate nomination with rival David Dewhurst in a contest that presents several challenges.

Cruz obtained 34 percent of the votes in the Republican primary held Tuesday, while Dewhurst garnered 45 percent, although that was not sufficient to give him a first-round victory in a hard-fought race populated by nine candidates in all.

Although Cruz achieved his goal of forcing a July 31 run-off, some analysts predict a heated battle with Dewhurst, who has emerged - at present - as the Republican favorite to take the Senate seat.

The run-off "is going to be a very competitive contest. Dewhurst is the favorite, but Cruz has a reasonable chance to win," Mark Jones, a professor of political science and member of the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, told Efe.

After learning the results, Cruz said that his showing was a victory for conservatives, between "the established moderates and the (new) tidal wave of the (Republican) party."

In a challenging tone he added in his speech that he wants to face Dewhurst in five debates and discuss what he considers to be false accusations leveled at him by his opponent.

One of those is that Cruz is in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants and that he is a "China-loving pinko liberal."

The allusion to China resulted from a political commercial in which Dewhurst attacks Cruz by making it seem as if he sold himself for money by legally representing a company based in the Asian country against a U.S. firm.

Cruz, who has the support of the so-called Tea Party and figures like Sarah Palin and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, was the solicitor general of Texas from 2003 to 2008 and now works for a private law firm in Houston.

The result of the run-off will depend on how many voters go to the polls, and although in Tuesday's election about 11 percent cast ballots, run-offs always attract far fewer people to the polls, Jones said.

Dewhurst, meanwhile, who has been lieutenant governor of Texas since 2003 and touts himself as a "successful businessman and rancher," represents the Republicans' more conservative wing.

"It's a division between the new (Republicans) who represent pragmatism in opposition to the purism (of the more established camp)," Jones said. EFE