AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Ted Cruz supporters partied late into the night last night, at his headquarters in Stafford, Texas. The Senator needed to win Texas, the biggest prize in all of Super Tuesday, and he did. He said his win here in Texas, and in Oklahoma, boosts his argument that the Republican presidential nomination should now be a two-man race.
Cruz told hundreds of supporters in Stafford that billionaire Donald Trump would be a disaster as the republican nominee. He said the only way to stop him is if the other candidates unite behind him so he can challenge trump directly.
“After tonight, we have seen that our campaign is the only campaign that has beaten, that can beat, and that will beat Donald Trump.”
Cruz said only he could beat Hillary Clinton in the fall, not Trump.
Cruz defended his home turf, Hillary Clinton dominated and powerful members of Congress and the Legislature swatted back challengers.
Texas primary voters stuck with familiar faces over stadium-packing and angry outsiders Tuesday, thwarting a wave of anti-establishment resentment that has upended the 2016 presidential race and already sent packing three previous White House contenders with Texas ties.
But not Cruz. His campaign now rolls Wednesday to Kansas, which caucuses Saturday, after victories in Texas and Oklahoma delivered a crucial momentum swing. Marco Rubio had a disappointing Super Tuesday, only winning the Minnesota caucuses, but vowed to stay in the race.
Also not going anywhere are two of the most powerful lawmakers in Texas: U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. Both toppled conservative insurgents who accused them of being too entrenched and out of touch.
Cruz asked that his rivals “prayerfully consider” whether to keep going without mentioning Rubio or Ohio Gov. John Kasich by name.
“Head to head, our campaign beats Donald Trump resoundingly,” said Cruz, firing up supporters at a victory party outside his hometown of Houston. “But for that to happen, we must come together.”
Cruz picked up at least 132 delegates on Super Tuesday but still lags well behind Trump. Cruz ended the night with more than 43 percent of the vote in Texas — a solid victory in the crown jewel of Super Tuesday, but not resounding enough to hoard all 155 of the state’s delegates to himself.
Turnout in Texas far exceeded recent presidential primaries. Long lines forced precincts to remain open past when polls officially closed, and by early Wednesday, more than 2.6 million people had voted in the GOP primary with numbers still rolling in —topping the 2012 Republican primaries turnout by more than 1 million voters.
Exit polls showed that white evangelicals and hardline conservatives helped Cruz fight off an upset in his backyard from Trump, who like Sanders, drew enormous crowds in Texas in the final days before voting. Republican primary voters were also roughly split on whether they wanted a candidate with political experience or a nominee from outside the establishment.
Kevin Stone, 53, said the country doesn’t need a politician after voting for Trump at a Baptist church in Lubbock.
“There’s an air about him, I don’t agree with everything he does, but we need a leader, someone who has authority that can walk into any government,” Stone said.
Voters craving new blood had many in Washington closely watching suburban Houston, where Brady was in the political fight of his 10-term congressional career. Months after taking the powerful tax panel previously helmed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, Brady drew a challenge from three outsiders who sought to tap into Trump’s outsider message.
Some observers likened the race to the 2014 defeat by former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, but Brady proved his durability by winning outright and avoiding a runoff.
Winning more handily was Straus, who remains poised to run for a record-tying fifth session as House speaker after beating businessman Jeff Judson, whose supporters included Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton. Judson appeared to question whether Straus, who is Jewish, could connect with Christian voters and blamed him for the failure of get-tough immigration proposals.
“Voters showed that angry rhetoric and dishonest ads are no match for a well-organized campaign that looks to a brighter future,” Straus said.
Clinton, who won the Texas primary in 2008 over President Barack Obama, continued steamrolling to the Democratic nomination by beating Bernie Sanders by a roughly 2-to-1 margin behind overwhelming support from blacks and Hispanics.
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