DALLAS (AP) — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has traveled to Mexico for a family vacation as his home state struggles with a powerful winter storm that left many residents without power or safe drinking water.
The high-profile Republican lawmaker went with his family for a long-planned trip to Cancun and was expected to return immediately, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private conversations.
Spokespersons for Cruz’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment Wednesday night or Thursday.
Cruz became a top trend on social media overnight as images appeared to show him setting off on the trip.
The revelation opens Cruz to significant criticism in Texas and beyond as he contemplates the possibility of a second presidential run in 2024. The two-term senator’s current term expires in early 2025.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Texas woke up Thursday to a fourth day without power, and a water crisis was unfolding after winter storms wreaked havoc on the state’s power grid and utilities.
Texas officials ordered 7 million people — one-quarter of the population of the nation’s second-largest state — to boil tap water before drinking the water, after days of record low temperatures that damaged infrastructure and froze pipes.
In Austin, some hospitals faced a loss in water pressure and in some cases, heat.
Cruz was a leading Republican voice even before he ran for president in 2016. In more recent years, he has positioned himself as a key ally of Donald Trump with an eye toward a potential second White House bid.
The Texas senator, who once described Trump as a “pathological liar,” championed the-then president’s call to block the certification last month of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory. That stand led to calls for Cruz’s resignation after a violent mob stormed the Capitol as Congress was affirming Biden’s win.
“You lied about the election. The Capitol was attacked. Sen. Cruz: Resign,” reads billboards put up across Texas by the anti-Trump Republican Accountability Project.
Cruz’s office dismissed the criticism.
“The left – and some grifters on the right – are consumed by partisan anger and rage,” his office said in a written statement earlier in the month. “Sen. Cruz will continue to work for 29 million Texans in the Senate.”