FORT WORTH (AP) — Tea party favorite Ted Cruz has told the state Republican Convention that the race for Texas' open U.S. Senate seat will test the question, "Do grassroots matter?"
The former state solicitor general said Saturday that his July 31 runoff with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst should continue the tea party "tidal wave" that began in 2010.
A Cuban-American attorney with a fiery, populist style, Cruz is locked in a fierce battle for the Republican nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Dewhurst, who has been lieutenant governor since 2003, is the establishment GOP choice.
The pair face a runoff after neither won a majority of the votes cast during last month's primary.
Cruz said Dewhurst deserves respect for his long record of service, but "we need a fighter."
Dewhurst declared Saturday that "Washington is a disaster" and said he'd make the federal government more like Texas.
His speech to the convention in Fort Worth came shortly after Cruz's, and struck a more subdued tone. But Dewhurst also largely avoided boos from tea party supporters.
Dewhurst told the divided delegates that "being conservative isn't a theory, it's my life."
Dewhurst has held the powerful lieutenant governorship since 2003 and came close to winning the Senate nomination without a runoff.