Democrats' turnout in Texas primary is highest in 16 years
Supporters of Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Beto O'Rourke cheer at a Democratic watch party on primary election night in Texas. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)
Democrats in deep-red Texas turned out in their largest midterm primary election numbers in more than a decade Tuesday, propelling female candidates toward challenges to entrenched male Republicans in Congress and venting their anger at President Trump in the first state primary of 2018.
The biggest question was whether Texas is just the start of what's to come nationwide. Energized Texas Democrats showed up despite the long odds this November of ousting Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz — who released a radio ad after clinching the GOP nomination Tuesday night, telling voters that Democratic opponent Beto O'Rourke "wants to take our guns."O'Rourke, a congressman from El Paso who won his party's primary Tuesday, has called for banning AR-15-style assault rifles in wake of last month's mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people.
Neither that tragedy nor a mass shooting at a Texas church last fall played as dominant campaign issues in Texas, but with the GOP's majority in Congress on the line this fall, Democratic voters came out in force. Republicans kept their edge in the total number of votes cast, but Democrats made significant inroads into what has been Republican dominance for decades.