Cruz supporters lined up outside the ballroom of the Post Oak Hilton, in Houston’s Galleria area, waiting to get into what they hoped would be a victory party. Inside the ballroom, the press area was overflowing with local, state, and national reporters to see whether Congressman Beto O’Rourke could pull off one of the greatest upsets in Texas political history. Splayed out on every table in the ballroom were pocket copies of the Constitution, each one with a cover featuring Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign logo and slogan. (“Courageous Conservatives—Reigniting the Promise of America.”)
Around 9 p.m., as news spread that a few outlets were calling the race for Cruz, “Build that wall!” chants erupted from the crowd. People drifted away from the oversize TV screens showing election results and toward the stage in anticipation of Cruz’s arrival. The mood was ebullient and relieved after a closer-than-expected race and longer-than-expected wait. The biggest cheers of the night came around 9:25 p.m., when Fox News, which had been the station of choice all evening, called the race for Cruz.
“This election wasn’t about me and it wasn’t about Beto O’Rourke,” Cruz said in his victory speech. “This election was a battle of ideas. It was a contest for who we are and what we believe. And the people of Texas decided this race. Texas came together behind a common-sense agenda of low taxes, low regulations and lots and lots of jobs. This was an election about hope and about the future of Texas, and the people of Texas rendered a verdict that they want more jobs and more freedom. I want to take a moment to congratulate Beto O’Rourke. He poured his heart into this campaign. He worked tirelessly and he took time away from his kids. And I want to also say, millions across this state were inspired by his campaign. They didn’t prevail and I’m grateful the people of Texas chose us. But let me say to all of those who supported him that my job is to represent all Texans.”