Tea Party darling and former state solicitor general Ted Cruz forced Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst into a runoff primary election which will decide who represents the Republican Party in a closely watched Texas Senate race.

Establishment GOP favorite Dewhurst outpaced Cruz handily Tuesday, but fell well short of breaking the 50 percent margin of votes cast needed to avoid a runoff. The pair emerged from a nine-candidate Republican field and will square off in a second round of voting July 31.

That means nine more weeks of a race that had already drawn national attention.A victory by Cruz may mirror an upset similar to Richard Mourdock’s ousting of 36-year Senate veteran Richard Lugar in Indiana.

The millionaire owner of energy consortia, Dewhurst won the endorsement of Gov. Rick Perry and poured $15 million of his own money into his campaign.

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