U.S. SENATE RACE

Trump to hold rally for Cruz in Houston

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Trump to hold Houston rally for Ted Cruz Monday

President Donald Trump is set to visit Houston on Oct. 22 to hold a rally for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in his re-election campaign.

Trump's campaign announced earlier this week that the rally will take place at the NRG Arena. The date marks the first day of early voting for the November election, in which Cruz faces a strong challenge from U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso.

Republicans currently control the Senate 51-49 and Democrats need to flip at least two seats to become the majority, which would give them the ability to block President Donald Trump's appointees to federal judgeships and a stronger hand in legislation. But gaining those two additional seats is a tall order.

The 35 Senate races this year include a disproportionate number of Democratic incumbents trying to hang on in conservative states. With 29 seats to defend, compared with just six for the GOP, Democrats will be hard-pressed to avoid losing ground, much less gain any.

In a private meeting for big Republican donors in September, a senior Trump administration official warned that Cruz could be in trouble because voters don't find him "likable." Many Republican senators don't, either. O'Rourke, by contrast, has become a Democratic heartthrob this year, with adoring headlines in national publications, huge crowds at rallies and comparisons to the Kennedys.

Likable or not, however, this is Texas, and Cruz is a Republican, and his party has won 170 statewide races since the last time it lost one, in 1994. Unless he can generate a previously unseen turnout by Latinos, O'Rourke probably won’t break that streak.

Polls have shown a close race, but Cruz has held a steady lead.

Trump announced in August that he would be headlining "major rally" for Cruz in October. "I’m picking the biggest stadium in Texas we can find," Trump wrote on Twitter.

NRG Arena, however, does not rank among the state’s biggest venues, billing itself as “ideal for events that draw 10,000 or fewer people.” The venue sits southeast of the 72,000-seat NRG Stadium that is home to the Houston Texans. 

The rally is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. and admission is free on Trump’s website, donaldjtrump.com. 

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