Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas beat back an unexpectedly strong challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke, a Republican hold that virtually guaranteed they would retain control of the Senate.
Although the upstart Democrat had the advantage for much of the early returns, Texas’s status as a deep-red state eventually prevailed and several TV networks called the race for Mr. Cruz shortly after 10 p.m.
With Republicans also holding onto Tennessee and picking off vulnerable Democrats in Indiana and North Dakota, there was basically no chance left by 10:30 p.m. of the Democrats gaining the needed two seats.
With 82 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Cruz led by 50.9 percent to 48.4 percent — a margin of more than 150,000 votes. Mr. O’Rourke had set fundraising records and become a darling of the national press. But conservative Texas still hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since Lloyd Bentsen in 1988.
Mr. O’Rourke and his supporters were in a minor league baseball stadium in El Paso, his home base, while Mr. Cruz’s election day gathering was in Houston.