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Ted Cruz surprises nation with Republican caucus win in Iowa

(AP Photo)

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz stunned the nation by beating out billionaire Donald Trump in the Iowa caucus on Monday.

Cruz, who won the caucus with 28 percent of votes, was not expected to win Monday’s caucus. He is now one step closer to becoming the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Historically, the Republican winner of the Iowa caucus does not go on to be the party’s nominee. The same cannot be said for the Democratic Party.

Weather was a concern leading up to the first presidential primary of the year. The forecast called for nearly six inches of snow to fall Monday. The storm was supposed to take a nasty turn soon after the polls closed.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also praised the drive of his rival Cruz, with whom he’s repeatedly clashed on a range of issues, saying Cruz “has a very strong ground game.”

Ahead of Monday’s vote, Valley political analyst Stan Barnes said Trump shouldn’t be concerned with Cruz.

“If Trump wins (Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina), it will be a tidal wave and I believe other candidates will get out of the race,” he said. “It will likely come down to Trump and anti-Trump. Maybe that’s Chris Christie, Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush. It won’t be Ted Cruz.”

Trump pressed Cruz hard in the buildup to Monday’s vote, telling Iowans that Cruz “will destroy your ethanol businesses, 100 percent.”

“Your ethanol business, if Ted Cruz gets in, will be wiped out within six months to a year,” Trump continued. “It’s going to be gone.”

Cruz has advocated phasing out ethanol subsidies over time — a position that is deeply unpopular in the agricultural state.

Prior to Monday’s vote, Trump admitted to ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he was “a little bit nervous,” especially as Cruz began to move into position as the billionaire’s chief rival.

The Republican candidates were vying for the support of the state’s 30 delegates at this year’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The next presidential primary is Feb. 9 in New Hampshire.

KTAR’s Jim Cross and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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