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Those declaring the Tea Party "dead" may want to look at what just happened in Texas last night: A Tea Party candidate who was at 2 percent in the polls at the outset of his campaign, easily won the state's Republican Senate nomination. Winning by 13 percentage points, former state solicitor general Ted Cruz turned one of America's reddest state even redder with his defeat of David Dewhurst, a Republican juggernaut endorsed by such blatant liberal ideologues as Texas Gov. Rick Perry. “Tonight is a victory for the grass roots,” said Cruz, who will advance to the general election against former state Rep. Paul Saddler. “It is a testament to Republican women, to Tea Party leaders and to grass-roots conservatives.”

As The Texas Tribune's Aman Batheja notes, the surprise runoff to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison generated national interest and big money: With more than $45 million in spending, it was the country's most expensive non-presidential race of the cycle. "From the start, the race appeared to be Dewhurst’s to lose, as he had held statewide office for more than a decade and had millions of dollars in personal wealth at his disposal to outspend any opponents," writes Batheja. "But many influential activists aligned with the Tea Party were unimpressed with Dewhurst’s record and could not shake the feeling that he would crumble to pressure from moderates once in Congress." The Associated Press, meanwhile, notes that Cruz's victory may have been more about retail politicking and the mood of the state rather than concrete policy differences: "Cruz memorized the U.S. Constitution while in high school and successfully painted his opponent as wishy-washy -- even though they actually disagree on little, either politically or ideologically." It probably didn't hurt that Cruz also had the support of high profile Tea Party leaders like Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Glen Beck, Sens. Jim DeMint and Rand Paul. Regardless, it's a surprise blow for Texas's GOP establishment. “We got beat up a little bit, but we never gave up,” Dewhurst is quoted as saying in The Texas Tribune. “And we stand tall in knowing that we never compromised any of our values.”

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