Ted Cruz is panicking about his re-election campaign — and he’s only making things worse for himself.
Ted Cruz’s latest series of ads were supposed to improve the Texas Republican’s odds of winning re-election to the U.S. Senate this November.
Instead, they have created a wildly successful fundraising opportunity for Cruz’s Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Earlier this month, Cruz launched a wave of attack ads designed to scare off voters considering O’Rourke. The ads paint the Democratic representative as “extreme” and “too reckless for Texas.”
One particularly ridiculous ad suggests O’Rourke wants to legalize heroin.
Unfortunately for Cruz, his challenger saw this one coming.
O’Rourke quickly fired back with a tweet which included a clip of himself speaking to supporters — way back in June — predicting exactly this line of attack.
“They will tell you, because I want to end the war on drugs and end the prohibition on marijuana, that I want to do some terrible things like legalize crack cocaine and give your kids heroin,” O’Rourke says in the clip. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Cruz’s negative ads only served to energize O’Rourke’s supporters, who came together to raise an incredible $1.3 million in a single weekend.
That number is sure to terrify Cruz and send shivers down the spines of Republican strategists nationwide.
When Cruz first won his Senate seat six years ago, his Democratic opponent barely raised half that amount in the entire election, according to OpenSecrets.
Now, O’Rourke says he will spend the entire sum from this weekend on “positive” television ads of his own, which he plans to air in every Texas media market.
The move marks a major shift in strategy for the Democratic campaign, which previously suggested it might not have a television presence at all.
This isn’t the first time Cruz has made a bumbling attempt to imitate his former nemesis turned prospective savior, Donald Trump, by embracing the kinds of post-truth fearmongering tactics that get Fox News viewers buzzing.
Cruz once suggested O’Rourke was trying to hide something from voters by using his nickname, “Beto,” instead of his full name, “Robert” — even though “Ted” Cruz’s own full name is “Rafael.”
And when Cruz tried to mimic Trump’s race-baiting against NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem to protest systemic racism, he was booed by his own constituents.
Polls already show Ted Cruz is struggling to stay ahead in the race, while fundraising figures show him falling far, far behind. The last thing he needed now was for O’Rourke to match him on the television battlefield.
If the ads help O’Rourke reach new voters, and force Cruz to spend even more money, it could send the senator and his campaign into an expensive, panicked death spiral — and torpedo Republicans’ chances of holding the Senate this November.