Texas maverick Ted Cruz beat billionaire Donald Trump in Iowa’s Republican presidential nominating contest on Monday, dealing a big upset to the party’s national front-runner for the 2016 White House race.
Cruz won with 28 percent of the vote compared to 24 percent for Trump, while Marco Rubio, a senator from Florida, came in third with 23 percent, Reuters reported.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were in a “virtual tie”, according to the report.
Cruz’s win and Rubio’s strong showing could dent the momentum for Trump, whose candidacy has alarmed the Republican establishment and been marked by controversies such as his calls for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US.
“Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa and all across this great nation,” Cruz, 45, said during a victory speech.
He said the results showed that the nominee would not be chosen by the media, the Washington establishment or lobbyists.
Trump congratulated Cruz but said he still expects to win the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 presidential election.
Rubio’s third-place finish, meanwhile, establishes him as the Republican mainstream alternative to Trump and Cruz.
Among Democrats, Clinton and Sanders both came in at roughly 50 percent with 95 percent of the state’s precincts reporting results.
Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who had trouble gaining any traction in the Democratic race, suspended his campaign. He took third place with less than one percent.
Clinton said she was breathing a “big sigh of relief” after the results. She congratulated Sanders and did not declare victory in her remarks.
“It is rare that we have the opportunity we do now to have a real contest of ideas,” she said.
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