Democrats see GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as a vulnerable target in the 2018 midterm elections, as they look ahead to a daunting task of attempting to gain party wins while defending 25 seats, Politico reports.
The party is hoping that President Donald Trump's unpopularity will benefit them, despite Texas being a conservative stronghold.
Three-term congressman Beto O'Rourke entered the Senate race on Friday, according to The Houston Chronicle.
The former rock musician and internet entrepreneur can win because of Cruz's low poll results and focus on winning the presidency instead of his Senate job, Democrats said in Politico's report.
"The challenge will be for Beto or anyone else running in a Senate race against Cruz to have the resources and the megaphone big enough to tell their story statewide," Matt Angle, Lone Star Project executive director, said, the Chronicle notes.
Democrats are down 52-48 in the Senate. Out of the 25 they must defend, five are in conservative states that supported Trump by large margins. The commander in chief carried five more of the 25 states by a less sizeable amount. Republicans only have to defend nine seats, Politico reported.
Cruz became known for leading Republicans in a government shutdown, for calling Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar, and for not endorsing Trump during the Republican National Convention.
He has faced criticism from within his own party. Former House Speaker John Boehner once referred to Cruz as "Lucifer in the flesh."
The senator issued a statement after O'Rourke's announcement: "I welcome (O'Rourke) to the race, and will continue to work every day to earn and keep the trust of Texans across our great state."
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, does not predict success for O'Rourke. "I know Beto. And he's a good guy. But I think this is a suicide mission. We haven't elected a Democrat statewide since… 1994," Cornyn said, according to Politico.
Democrats are holding out hope, according to Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman. "We're realistic. Our approach is, No. 1, to shore up the blue line we have in the Senate right now. Wild things can happen in 2018."
O'Rourke has beaten the odds before: He defeated Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes in 2012 to win his seat. "I was running against 100-to-1 odds. You don't know until you do it," he said, according to Politico.
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