Texas Elections 2018

New anti-Ted Cruz super PAC launches, announces $1.2 million ad buy

The ad campaign from Texas Forever represents the largest infusion of outside spending yet against Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz as he battles Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke.

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, (left) and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at the first of their debates, in Dallas on Sept. 21, 2018.
U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, (left) and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at the first of their debates, in Dallas on Sept. 21, 2018.  Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune
Texas Elections 2018

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz defeated Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in the race for U.S. Senate. View full 2018 Texas election results or subscribe to The Brief for the latest election news.

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*Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a statement from Beto O'Rourke's campaign.

A new super PAC has formed to oppose U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's re-election, and it is wasting little time, announcing a $1.2 million ad buy with less than two weeks until Election Day.

The group, Texas Forever, announced the ad blitz Thursday, saying it will air in Dallas and make "clear to the people of Texas who Ted Cruz really is." The $1.2 million effort, first reported by The Dallas Morning News, represents the largest infusion of outside spending yet against Cruz as he battles Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke, the El Paso congressman.

Texas Forever's treasurer is Chris Lippincott, a veteran Texas political consultant. The super PAC's ads were not immediately available, but in a statement, Lippincott offered a preview of the group's message.

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"Ted Cruz is a phony politician propped up by millions of out of state dark dollars who has spent the past six years doing favors for his special interest donors; forgetting the people of Texas who sent him to the Senate in the first place," Lippincott said. "We are standing up to make sure people across the great state of Texas know his shameful record of selling us out to further his career in politics."

Texas Forever filed with the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 19, a date that allows it to avoid having to disclose its donors until after the Nov. 6 election, on Dec. 6. Lippincott said the group is "going to follow the FEC schedule."

Outside spending against Cruz has been modest at best so far, especially considering the millions of dollars that Republican super PACs have pumped into the race attacking O'Rourke. The Fire Ted Cruz PAC, which up until now has been the main super PAC opposing Cruz, has raised $549,000 through Oct. 17, according to FEC records.

O'Rourke has sworn off PAC money in his campaign and said he does not want outside groups getting involved. His campaign reiterated that Thursday after Texas Forever announced its ad buy.

"We're not interested in the help of any Super PACs or special interests and don't want their involvement in this race, which is why our grassroots campaign has accepted exactly $0.00 from PACs in this election," O'Rourke spokesman Chris Evans said in a statement.

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But neither candidate ultimately has formal control over the activities of super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in a race as long as they do not coordinate with campaigns.

"This isn’t in coordination with Beto O’Rourke or his campaign," Lippincott said. "This is an effort to draw attention to Ted Cruz and his record. That’s what we’re here to do."

Disclosure: Chris Lippincott has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.