Cuban-American Republican Ted Cruz has a commanding lead in the polls over Democrat Paul Sadler in the race for one of Texas' two seats in the U.S. Senate.
Cruz, 41, had to beat Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a GOP primary runoff and now looks to do the same with Sadler, who has not held public office since 2003.
According to a poll by The Texas Lyceum, Cruz, a former state solicitor general, was leading with 50 percent of voter preference against just 24 percent for Sadler.
Cruz's lead, according to Dallas-based political analyst Gustavo Bujanda, is due to the number of backers he has won in the Tea Party movement, which has "taken over" important leadership positions within the state Republican Party.
"We're talking about an extreme polarization in the Republican Party, both at the state and national levels. It is this wing (the Tea Party) and its leaders that have managed to pass anti-immigrant measures in a number of states," Bujanda told Efe in an interview.
Cruz has said that he will not support any kind of immigration reform without first improving border security, not even the legalization of undocumented students.
According to Bujanda, it's logical that Cruz lines up with those ideals when it's obvious he would never get very far with Hispanic voters in Texas.
"Texas is a demographic sample of what is happening in the rest of the United States - the growth in importance and influence of the Hispanic electorate, and the continued fragmentation of the Anglo electorate," he said.
Sadler, for his part, has often repeated his commitment to immigration reform.
Linda Vega, founder of the Latinos Ready to Vote organization in Houston, said that Cruz's lead over Sadler is not only because they are at odds on immigration, but also on the economy.
"Sadler is a conservative Democrat who understands reforms, but finds himself in a Republican state with a rigid Tea Party administration that identifies him with the liberal politics of President Barack Obama," Vega said.
"On immigration matters, I believe that once he's elected to the Senate, Cruz will try to move to the center and work with the other senators to find a practical solution to the broken immigration system that loses us a work force," Vega said.
Cruz, who graduated from Harvard Law School with honors, was the state's first Hispanic solicitor general as well as the youngest attorney to hold the post.
Sadler, also an attorney, was a state representative in Texas from 1991 to 2003, and during that time was named on several occasions by the press as one of the best lawmakers in the state. EFE