By Jack Fink

HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Senator Ted Cruz returned to Houston Thursday, Feb. 18, after he and his family left for a vacation to Cancun a day earlier which ignited a political firestorm.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) checks in for a flight at Cancun International Airport after a backlash over his Mexican family vacation as his home state of Texas endured a Winter storm on February 18, 2021 in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Photo by MEGA/GC Images)

After arriving home, Cruz told reporters in his backyard, “I certainly regret that this has become a distraction at a time when so many Texans are hurting and frustrated and mad that this has become an item of debate and distraction. I think that’s unfortunate. That was certainly not my intention.”

The state’s Democratic Party Chair, Gilberto Hinojosa, is among those who said Cruz needs to go.

“Come on, he has no business being in this office and he needs to resign. How can he show his face in the state and any longer?”

Texas Republican Party Chair, retired Lt. Colonel Allen West, didn’t provide Cruz any political cover.

“The optics aren’t good.”

He said he would have handled this differently.

“If I had been in a firefight with my Battalion, in combat, a major military operation, I would not pull myself out to go on r&r. So I think that’s something that Senator Cruz is going to have to explain to the constituents here in Texas.”

Earlier Thursday, Cruz issued a statement saying he and his family lost power like millions of other Texans.

“With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas.”

In response, Hinojosa said, “It’s very hard to believe that what he’s saying is the truth. If you are a good father, the last thing you’re going to do is to blame your children, for your responsibility, for your lack of judgment.”

While West wouldn’t defend Cruz’s trip to Cancun, he strongly disagreed with Democrats’ calls for him to resign or be expelled.

“That’s foolishness. I mean, this is not worthy of all of that. I mean, I think that every morning that Senator Ted Cruz wakes up, the Texas Democrat Party wants him to resign or something.”

He said the focus needs to remain on finding solutions, not cheap political shots.

Hinojosa said Senator Cruz should have remained in Texas to help state leaders to get the power restored.

Last December, Cruz went after Democrats for vacationing during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Austin Mayor Steve Adler for going to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Cruz tweeted, “Hypocrites. Complete and utter hypocrites. And don’t forget @MayorAdler who took a private jet with eight people to Cabo and WHILE IN CABO recorded a video telling Austinites to ‘stay home if you can…this is not the time to relax’.”