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FORT WORTH U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz revved up more than 800 supporters in the Fort Worth Stockyards on Wednesday night as he offered support to a tea party candidate in a runoff for a State Senate seat.

Cruz spent a little more than an hour at the Stockyards, arriving to loud applause, and firing up the crowd with his usual talk of grassroots support and criticism of Democrats.

He was officially in town to back Konni Burton, who is running against Dr. Mark Shelton for State Senate District 10 the one being vacated by Wendy Davis as she runs for governor.

But Cruz was also quizzed about a new online petition, RunTedRun.com which is trying to draft him to run for president.

'I appreciate all of the kind encouragement,' Cruz said to reporters brushing off speculation he might have the Oval Office in his sights. 'I can tell you my focus is on doing my job, which is focusing on 26 million Texans.'

But Iowa is also seeing a lot of Cruz. The freshman Texas senator has spent time there, as many expect him to run for president in 2016.

Cruz kept mostly quiet during the recent Texas primary, and didn't offer many endorsements. But he is changing that stance as several races move into a runoff.

When asked several times why he would not make an endorsement in the hotly-contested lieutenant governor's race between State Sen. Dan Patrick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Cruz ignored the question and kept walking.

Cruz defeated Dewhurst in 2012 for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. And Dan Patrick, a tea party favorite, actually endorsed Dewhurst over Cruz that year.

E-mail: jwhitely@wfaa.com

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