Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told supporters at a rally on Saturday that Democrats wanted to make Texas like California and listed off a few things as stereotypical staples of the blue state.
“We are seeing tens of millions of dollars flooding into the state of Texas from liberals all over the country who desperately want to turn the state of Texas blue,” Cruz said. “They want us to be just like California, right down to tofu and silicon and dyed hair.”
Cruz added that his wife, Heidi Cruz, was “a California vegetarian.”
“She's wonderful, but I brought her to the great state of Texas,” Cruz said.
Cruz's line was part of a speaking event in Katy, Texas, according to a video shared on his Twitter account, and came as he works to fend off a challenge from Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke this November.
While Texas is generally thought of as a Republican stronghold, O'Rourke's bid has received national attention, and an August poll showed Cruz with only a slight lead.
Patrick, who was chairman of Trump's 2016 campaign in Texas, reportedly asked White House officials during a July trip to Washington, D.C., about sending Trump to the state to campaign on Cruz's behalf. The lieutenant governor argued that an appearance from Trump would provide a necessary turnout boost for state Republicans, Politico reported.
The Hill has reached out to both Patrick and the White House for comment.
Patrick's reported request was soon followed by Cruz saying he'd “welcome” a visit from Trump during campaign season. Late last month, the president followed through, announcing he planned to hold a rally at “the biggest stadium in Texas we can find.”
With O’Rourke outraising Cruz more than 2 to 1 during the past quarter, right-leaning organizations have begun routing resources to the state. The anti-tax Club for Growth, which spent millions on Cruz during his 2012 Senate bid, has started a seven-figure advertising blitz aimed at tearing down the Democratic congressman. The organization has begun polling the race, and David McIntosh, the organization’s president, recently traveled to Texas to meet with donors who could help fund the barrage. More than $1 million has been raised so far, people close to the group say.
A handful of other well-funded groups are considering joining the effort, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, the Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund, the newly formed Senate Reform Fund, and Ending Spending, which in the past has been bankrolled by major GOP financiers including New York City investor Paul Singer. Some of the groups have been in touch with one another as they weigh their next moves and try to determine how much their help is needed.
“I think there will be a lot of money,” said Doug Deason, a Dallas investor and prominent GOP giver who met with McIntosh.
Cruz, who aggressively wooed evangelicals during his 2016 presidential campaign, is taking steps to stir interest among conservative groups. He recently attended a Beltway meeting of the Conservative Action Project, a secretive gathering of movement leaders, where he issued a call to arms to prevent a Democratic coup in his state.
They are responding in kind. On Thursday, the Senate Conservatives Fund sent an email to supporters asking them to finance Cruz. The Family Research Council is planning a multistop October bus tour through Texas. And this week, Tea Party Patriots is expected to start a phone, text and mail campaign bolstering the senator.
“Texas is one of our top priority states,” said Jenny Beth Martin, the Tea Party Patriots co-founder. “We want to help Ted Cruz be reelected to the Senate because he’s championed our priorities on Capitol Hill.”
The senator, meanwhile, is relying on the big donor network that fueled his presidential bid. He’s been reaching out to major givers via text message and has recently been in touch with Bekah Mercer, the reclusive conservative megadonor whose father was a primary financier of Cruz’s presidential bid.
Lee Roy Mitchell, a founder of the Cinemark movie theater chain, is among those concerned that major donors aren't taking the senator's reelection race seriously enough.
“We’re solidly behind the senator, and I would like to think most Texans are. I believe they are,” said the Dallas-based Mitchell, an active member of the Koch political network who, with his wife, Tandy, has donated a combined $1 million to a pro-Cruz super PAC. “But there’s a tremendous amount of [Democratic] money being poured in here to change people’s opinions.”
After antagonizing the K Street set early in his Senate career, Cruz is courting it as he attempts to fill his coffers. Cruz has been regularly inviting high-powered lobbyists to dinners at Capital Grille and other Washington restaurants.
He’s been candid during the sit-downs about the threat he’s facing for reelection, those who’ve met with him say.
Cruz has filled his calendar with fundraisers, including at least three scheduled this week. And he’s turned to veteran Washington players like Wayne Berman, who’s hosted several fundraising events for the Texas senator. Berman, who sits on the board of the influential Republican Jewish Coalition, has also reached out to would-be givers from the pro-Israel and financial industries.
“Cruz has made a concerted effort over the last year and a half to listen and work with many of us around town,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief political strategist Scott Reed, who attended a Cruz fundraiser last week.
Beto has done an excellent job running a very successful grassroots campaign. Beto has also been making his campaign one of the most watched races in the country. He’s been raising his awareness greatly. Mark your calendars for this:
Just days after being on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Democrat Beto O'Rourke is now set to go on another popular national talk show.
O'Rourke is scheduled to be on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Wednesday along with Kiera Knightly and Martha Stewart.
It's not the first time Texas U.S. Senate race has made an appearance on late night television. Earlier this summer, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was featured onJimmy Kimmel Live after the two played a one-on-one basketball game. For two months, Cruz has made his victory over Kimmel a big part of his campaign speeches while touring the state.
The fact that Cruz needs to plead to big donors for help shows how much danger he's in. Cruz is going to use all that money to attack Beto and we have to get ready. Click here to donate and get involved with Beto’s campaign.