A 33-year-old man who allegedly threw a can at Cruz was taken to jail and charged with assault, police said.
“I am always grateful to the Houston Police Department and the Capitol Police for their quick response.” Cruz tweeted. “I’m also grateful that the clown who threw his white nails had noodles in his hand.”
Cruz is no stranger to public face-offs. He spoke out on gun control at a Houston sushi restaurant and criticized his friendship with then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at an Italian restaurant in Washington.
Politicians and other public officials have been attacked in public before: Eggs, cakes, books, shoes and glitter balls are common.
But researchers say the current political climate is unique.
“I see something different this time,” said Spencer Overton, a law professor at George Washington University.
He said America is experiencing an unprecedented cultural crisis, with people resorting to political violence to preserve their identity.
Videos posted online show Cruz being booed by crowds during another part of the rally.
In a deep red state, Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election by more than 10 points in Harris County, which includes Houston.
Harris County has hosted some of the most heated political battles in Texas, with Republicans employing election monitors to monitor ballot handling. Democrats worry the observers could intimidate voters, but Republicans say they are trying to ensure the integrity of the vote.
Tensions are building locally and nationally ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.
One in five US adults is willing to tolerate an act of political violence, according to a poll of 8,500 people led by emergency physician Garen J. Wintemuth, director of the Violence Prevention Program at UC Davis.
There’s a step between condoning political violence and committing it, but Wintemuth says encouraging violence creates a climate of acceptance for violence. “I expect there will be periods of violence during the midterm elections,” he said.
Last month, a database released by Princeton University recorded 400 cases of political violence against public officials.
“One of our methods is that people use political violence and threats as a political strategy instead of using the ballot box,” said Joel Day, director of research at the database. “Intimidation and violence are never limited to the officers in charge. They are designed to prevent participation in the democratic process.”