The Latest: Cruz releases country jingle deriding O'Rourke

The Latest: Cruz releases country jingle deriding O'Rourke

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Latest on primary day in Texas (all times CST):

9:10 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's newest ad targeting his Democratic challenger is a country jingle that warns, "If you're going to run in Texas, you can't be liberal, man."

Cruz tweeted the 60-second radio ad Tuesday night, shortly after he and U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke advanced to a closely watched November matchup.

The ad says O'Rourke "wants to take our guns" and calls him "liberal Robert," referring to his given first name, and says he "changed his name to Beto."

Cruz also uses a nickname for his given name, Rafael Edward Cruz.

O'Rourke is raising more money than Cruz so far but remains very unlikely to win in November. Texas has not elected a Democrat statewide since 1994.


9:05 p.m.

Texas state Sen. Van Taylor has won the Republican nomination to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson.

The 45-year-old Taylor has been a state lawmaker since 2010. The businessman is a former Marine and Iraq War veteran who was first elected to the state House and has been in the state Senate since 2015.

Taylor has been endorsed for Congress by Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

Johnson is one of eight Texas congressmen not seeking re-election this year. He had held the seat since 1991 in the solidly Republican Dallas-area district..


8:55 p.m.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is striking a cautious tone despite sailing to victory against little-known challengers in Texas' first-in-the-nation primary.

Abbott easily clinched his party's nomination Tuesday and has a campaign war chest worth around $43 million, more than any gubernatorial candidate nationwide.

It's not yet clear who Texas' Democratic nominee will be, but Abbott is nonetheless heavily favored in November.

Still, Democrats more than doubled their early voter participation in the primary when compared to the Texas' last midterm election in 2014. They are optimistic despite not winning a Texas statewide office since 1994.

In a statement, Abbott declared "We cannot afford to take Texas for granted," adding "This is a fight for our future and it begins now."


8:15 p.m.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has clinched his party's nomination for re-election despite being indicted on felony securities fraud charges.

Paxton was unopposed in Tuesday's first-in-the-nation Texas primary. He is the overwhelming favorite in November since a Democrat hasn't won statewide office in Texas since 1994, the country's longest political losing streak.

Paxton is facing a much-delayed trial for allegedly defrauding wealthy investors in a technology startup. The accusations cover actions before Paxton took office in 2015.

Despite that negative attention, Paxton wasn't challenged in the Republican primary — even as other top members of his party were.


8 p.m.

A closely watched matchup is set between U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

Cruz and O'Rourke clinched their parties' nominations Tuesday. O'Rourke is raising more money than Cruz so far but remains very unlikely to win in November.

Gov. Greg Abbott also clinched the Republican nomination for governor and enters the general election as a heavy favorite against whoever emerges from the Democratic primary.

Polling places in El Paso and far West Texas closed at 8 p.m. CST, an hour later than the rest of the state.

No Democrat has won a statewide race in Texas since 1994.


7 p.m.

The polls have closed in almost all of Texas for the nation's first primaries of 2018.

Only polling places in El Paso and far West Texas will remain open for another hour, until 8 p.m. CST. People in line at the 7 p.m. CST closing time will still be able to vote.

Democrats hope to break a losing streak in statewide races that dates back to 1994. Many Republicans say they want to show their steadfast support for President Donald Trump.

Long lines were reported in Texas' major cities and at the University of Texas in Austin, where hundreds of students waited to vote at a campus library.

Civil rights groups said they received reports of problems at eight polling places in Harris County, which encompasses Houston and some of its suburbs.


5:45 p.m.

A line stretching three quarters of the way around a campus library is waiting to cast last-minute ballots at the University of Texas.

Hundreds of students with books and backpacks, some eating and others with laptops open, waited Tuesday evening to cast their ballots in the nation's first primary election in 2018. Polls in most of Texas will close at 7 p.m., though polling places are required to accommodate anyone in line at that time.

Democrats saw participation in their primary surge in early voting, but turnout for the election as a whole remains to be seen.

Democrats are optimistic that backlash against President Donald Trump will lift their candidates, though the party hasn't won statewide office in Texas since 1994.


4 p.m.

The Texas secretary of state says the Democratic and Republican parties pay for polling locations during the state's primary elections, meaning that ballots for both don't necessarily have to be offered at all locations.

There were reports during Texas' first-in-the-nation primary Tuesday that two polling sites in Houston didn't have Democratic ballots.

Secretary of State spokesman Sam Taylor says parties sometimes opt to consolidate precincts or otherwise forgo having joint polling stations with their counterparts. That can mean that voters wanting to cast ballots for the other party in certain areas have to head to another location.

Texas has a semi-open primary, meaning voters can choose whether to vote Democratic or Republican. The problem doesn't apply to the general election since no party choice is made.


1:15 p.m.

A congressman who has launched a longshot bid to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is generating excitement for Democrats voting in the Texas primary election.

Voting Tuesday morning in Dallas, 64-year-old Bonnie Kobilansky said she thinks Beto O'Rourke is "a good guy" and was excited to cast her vote for him.

She says she wants to see change in the government, adding "that starts at the local level, the state level."

Twenty-seven-year-old Katie Newsome, a United Methodist pastor, says she's excited for the "freshness" and "vision" O'Rourke brings. She says she wants to see change both in the U.S. and in Texas, too.

She says she'd love to see Texas "turn blue." She says, "I don't know if that will happen but that would be exciting."

O'Rourke has generated national buzz in his challenge to Cruz. Neither faces serious primary challengers but O'Rourke recently has outraised Cruz and the senator has warned conservatives against complacency.


12:30 p.m.

Some Republicans voting in the Texas Republican primary say they're concerned about proposals calling for restrictions on firearms sales.

Jynelle Mikula, who voted in the GOP primary Tuesday at a Houston elementary school, says assault-style weapons and bump stocks shouldn't be sold to the public. But she's concerned the debate in the aftermath of the deadly shooting at a Florida high school could lead to the confiscation of weapons from law-abiding citizens such as herself.

Robert Coghlan, voting at the same school Tuesday, says the ongoing gun debate nationally also has him concerned. He says "we're kind of on the road to ban all guns."

Another Republican voter, Rosa Magaña, says the answer to gun violence should be educational outreach and not weapons bans.


11:45 a.m.

Some Houston-area voters say they've encountered problems at the polls that include one site opening more than an hour late, prompting some people to leave.

Teneshia Hudspeth with the elections division of the Harris County clerk's office said Tuesday that a last-minute change in staffing led to a delay in opening a Katy polling site.

She says local Democratic officials made a late change to the party's election judge who monitors that site.

Hudspeth says she wasn't aware of claims that two sites didn't have ballots for Democratic voters. She says some polling sites may only be for one party to vote, so a voter enrolled in an opposing party may appear expecting to vote only to be told they must go elsewhere.


11:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump isn't on the ballot in the Texas primary, but he's on the minds of voters.

One woman voting in Dallas says she's a "strong" Republican who supports Trump's agenda. Sixty-year-old Laura Smith said Tuesday that she backs Trump because he has "guts," isn't afraid and is a strong leader.

Smith, who works in a dentist's office, approves of the president's handling of immigration, job creation and tough approach to North Korea. She adds that she's open to new restrictions on people seeking to purchase firearms.

But Democrat Bonnie Kobilansky says she's alarmed by Trump's actions.

Kobilansky, a nurse practitioner, wants "to see a complete change in the top of the government."

She adds that she's heartened by the number of women running for office, explaining that political leaders need "common sense and practical knowledge — women have that."


8 a.m.

Early turnout has been light at some polling stations in Texas, which is holding the country's first midterm primary.

Texas' primary on Tuesday follows a relatively busy early-voting period.

Democratic early voting across Texas' 15 most-populous counties, the only figures available, more than doubled that of the last non-presidential cycle in 2014. Meanwhile, the number of Republican early ballots cast increased only slightly.

Total Democratic early votes exceeded Republican ones roughly 465,000 to 420,000, though those figures combined accounted for less than 9 percent of the state's total registered voters.

Polls close at 7 p.m. Tuesday, except for some far West Texas locations, such as El Paso, where they close at 8 p.m. Central Standard Time.


11:10 p.m.

Texas Democrats have turned out in force ahead of their state's first-in-the-nation primary election Tuesday, even though their party remains a longshot to win much.

Democratic early voting across Texas' most-populous counties was more than double that of the last non-presidential cycle in 2014.

But Democrats haven't won a statewide office in Texas since 1994, and that losing streak should continue this year.

A record six Texas Republicans and two Democrats are leaving Congress. Many of the open seats feature so many candidates from both parties that most primary races won't have anyone winning a majority of Tuesday's votes, ensuring a second round of voting May 22.

Democrats also hope to flip three other Republican congressional districts, but those races may need runoffs to decide who the party's nominee will be.

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