As the race between O’Rourke and Cruz heated up, it came to represent the bitter political divide in the country and was seen as not only a referendum on the Trump presidency, but also issues of gender, race, and violence.
Cruz, an evangelical, anti-abortion conservative in favor of highly restrictive immigration laws, aligned himself with President Trump who rallied for the Senator while stocking fear of a “migrant caravan” headed to the Texas border. The endorsement was a turn-around from Trump’s comments about Cruz during the presidential primary, in which he referred to the Senator as "Lyin’ Ted," insulted his wife Heidi’s appearance, and even implicated Cruz’s father in the Kennedy assassination.
O’Rourke, the Representative from Texas’s 16th district, launched a grassroots campaign in March 2017, campaigning in all of the state’s 254 counties. He focused on galvanizing Democrats, dissatisfied Republicans, and historical non voters. In what seemed like good news for O'Rourke more people participated in early voting this year than voted in the entire 2014 midterm elections. Ultimately, he fell short.