The Texas Tribune notes that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas spent his 4Th Of July in McAllen, a heavily Hispanic and Democratic community in the Rio Grande Valley. Besides riding in the traditional parade in the back of a convertible through downtown McAllen, Cruz got to experience something that too many politicians have endured in the past year, which was to get yelled at by some of his constituents.

Why was Cruz in McAllen?

Everything that Senator Cruz does these days is with an eye to the 2018 midterm elections. His only major opponent, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso, is not favored to win but is mounting a vigorous campaign nevertheless.

Cruz is not taking any chances, and so he is visiting parts of Texas where he lacks support with the hope of picking up some. The strategy is that even if he peels off a few votes for showing up and making his case, he will be more likely to get a second term in the Senate.

So how did the Senator do?

Cruz made a speech during the Independence Day ceremony in McAllen and was greeted with protestors who tried to shout him down. A group of Cruz supporters countered with chants of “USA! USA!” Cruz reacted to the shouting in good humor, noting how wonderful it was for people to have the freedom to yell at politicians, something that would be met with violence in other countries.

Cruz worked the crowd before the ceremony to get a feel for what concerns they had and to explore common ground.

However, in a conversation with reporters afterward, he dismissed the protesters as a small group of angry people from the left.

Why were the protestors upset?

Immigration is a big issue in the Valley, for obvious reasons of geography and demographics. However, most of the protesters seemed to be angry about the Senate’s efforts to extricate the United States from Obamacare.

Cruz is deeply involved with that effort, trying to hammer out a compromise that includes keeping an Obamacare compliant policy option in place along with more free market selections. The protestors carried signs saying things like, “Ted Wants Us Dead” and “Cruzing for a Bruzin 2018.”

Where was Beto O’Rourke?

Rep. O’Rourke was in Lubbock, a heavily Republican part of the state, doing much the same thing that Cruz was doing in McAllen.

Just as Cruz is trying to poach some Democratic votes, O’Rourke wants to cut into the incumbent’s Republican base. O’Rourke still has to get the Democratic nomination before he goes head-to-head with Cruz, something he is working very hard to do.