Texas showdown: Sen. Ted Cruz steps up his game as conservative firebrand faces bruising re-election race

As he faces a second straight challenging re-election campaign, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is upping his efforts.The conservative firebrand senator running for a third six-year term representing the Lone Star State in the Senate will team up Saturday in Houston with staff, volunteers, grassroots supporters, friends and family for the official opening of his 2024 campaign headquarters.The opening comes a couple of days after Cruz announced a large campaign cash haul over the past three months.The senator brought in $9.7 million during the first quarter of 2024 fundraising, according to figures shared first with Fox News Wednesday. Cruz’s haul from his three fundraising committees was nearly double the $5.5 million he brought in the previous three months.FIRST ON FOX: CRUZ HAULS IN NEARLY $10 MILLION THE PAST THREE MONTHSAnd the senator’s political team said that, as of the end of March, Cruz had $15.1 million cash on hand from his three fundraising committees. They noted that figure includes the amounts he has sent to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the campaign arm of the Senate GOP, and the Republican Party of Texas (RPT), which are dedicated to his race.  Campaign spokesperson Nick Maddux told Fox News the senator “is off to a very strong start this year as the momentum to get him across the finish line in November continues to increase across the entire Lone Star State.”SIX KEY SENATE SEATS THAT COULD FLIP IN NOVEMBER Cruz, who narrowly defeated Rep. Beto O’Rourke in a hard-fought 2018 Senate battle, is likely going to need every cent he raises, as he faces a bruising re-election bid against Democratic challenger Rep. Colin Allred.Allred, a former NFL player, civil rights attorney and three-term congressman representing a suburban Dallas district, on Thursday nearly matched Cruz’s fundraising. His campaign announced he hauled in over $9.5 million during the first quarter.Paige Hutchinson, Allred’s campaign manager, emphasized the fundraising “continues our momentum to build a strong campaign to win in November and send Ted Cruz packing for good.”Allred likely received a boost from President Biden, who told top-dollar donors during a fundraiser in Dallas last month, “You’ve got to elect Colin as your next senator … so Ted Cruz joins another loser, Donald Trump.”The former president is the GOP’s 2024 presumptive presidential nominee.Cruz, who was runner-up to Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential nomination race, flirted early this cycle with another White House run before confirming in late 2022 he would seek a third term in the Senate.The senator on Saturday will join with volunteers and staff, who will spend the day phone banking and door knocking on behalf of Cruz. The campaign says it has already surpassed 1 million direct voter contacts and notes it’s on track to hit historic grassroots numbers.WHERE THE PRESIDENTIAL AND SENATE SHOWDOWNS STAND IN TEXAS”Sen. Cruz will continue to pound the pavement day in and day out, meeting and talking to Texans in every corner of the state to keep Texas Texas and ensure that we remain the nation’s bastion of liberty,” Maddux emphasized.O’Rourke raised significantly more than Cruz in 2018 in a high-profile race that grabbed plenty of national attention.In an interview last week on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Cruz argued that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the chamber, “has been explicit. He’s coming after Texas. I am his No. 1 target in the entire country.”Cruz argued the Democrats “are going to spend more than $100 million this year. … They’re flooding millions of dollars into Texas.”The senator has long been a fan favorite of conservatives across the country due to his numerous broadsides against Democrats, from President Barack Obama early in his tenure to his attacks on President Biden in recent years.But Cruz, with the recent launch of “Democrats for Cruz,” is showcasing his bipartisan chops as he aims to attract left-leaning voters.He’s also trying to paint Allred as a partisan who votes in lockstep with his party.But Allred’s campaign counters that his bid is about “rejecting the divisiveness of Ted Cruz and fighting for Texans’ freedoms.”Democrats hold a slim 51-49 majority in the chamber, which includes three independent senators who caucus with the Democratic conference.That means Republicans need a net gain of either one or two seats to win back the majority, depending on which party controls the White House after this year’s presidential election.The math and the map favor the GOP in 2024. Democrats are defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs. Three of those seats are in red states Trump carried in 2020 — West Virginia, Montana and Ohio.Democrats are also defending an open seat in West Virginia after Sen. Joe Manchin announced late last year he would not seek re-election.Five other blue-held seats are in key swing states narrowly carried by President Biden in 2020 — Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In blue-state Maryland, Senate Republicans scored a recruiting success with popular former GOP Gov. Larry Hogan.Texas and Florida, where incumbent Sen. Rick Scott is seeking re-election, appear to be the only competitive GOP-held seats up for grabs this November.Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.
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