Texas: Early Voting Begins; Senate Runoff Escalates

Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz was endorsed by Sarah Palin on Facebook on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The two candidates in the runoff to decide the GOP nominee for Senate cast their ballots Monday amid some fanfare.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was accompanied to the polls by Gov. Rick Perry. His opponent, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, was joined by his family while voting in Houston, his hometown.

The first day of early voting before the July 31 runoff was a busy one in other respects.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrote an open letter to her 3.4 million Facebook fans on Cruz’s behalf. The note included a link to a donation page on his campaign website.

Senate Conservatives Action, a super PAC and arm of Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) Senate Conservatives Fund, launched a television commercial supporting Cruz. The group put about $500,000 behind the buy, which will run in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin.

The Club for Growth announced it was adding nearly $600,000 to its ad campaign for Cruz, bringing its total spent in this race to $2.5 million.

Dewhurst added a new, positive ad to his rotation called “Businessman.” He has also sent targeted direct mail to seniors in recent days. Seniors are able to mail in ballots and are central to the Dewhurst strategy.

This is an open-seat race to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R). Roll Call rates it as Safe Republican.