Despite being widely perceived as the anti-establishment candidate, and despite a significant campaign spending deficit, Ted Cruz has won Tuesday's Republican Senate primary in Texas. The Associated Press called the election with just 20 percent of precincts reporting.
Cruz, Texas' former solicitor general, was running against David Dewhurst, the current lieutenant governor of the state. While both Dewhurst and Cruz are strident conservatives and have been active in politics for years, Dewhurst was generally considered to be the candidate of the Republican establishment. According to the Texas Tribune, the lieutenant governor received donations from 85 registered Texan lobbyists, whereas Cruz received donations from only four. And while Cruz did receive the backing of prominent Tea Party stalwarts like FreedomWorks, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, the latest reports had him raising just $8.8 million to Dewhurst's $19.2 million.
On Tuesday's The Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow said that Cruz's victory was part of an ongoing "purification process" being carried out by the Republican Party's extreme right. This same process "has killed or cut short the careers" of prominent figures such as Dick Lugar, Charlie Crist, and Mike Castle.
"Although one might not think there was any actual room to the right of Texas' lieutenant governor—and indeed there are no real policy differences between these two candidates—in today's Republican Party politics, all you gotta do is call the other guy too liberal," said Maddow.