I intend to do a comprehensive roundup of why Ted Cruz won the Senate race, and why David Dewhurst lost, but it’s such a big subject I’m having trouble getting started. There’s entirely too much to talk about, and I’m still digesting all the ramifications.
So instead, here are a few other random observations from last night’s runoff:
Republicans now have two Hispanic candidates running for statewide office: Ted Cruz at the top of the ballot (just below President) for United States Senate, and Elsa Alcala for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 8. Number of Democrats nominated for statewide office in Texas in 2012: Zero. (Even the Libertarians have more statewide Hispanic candidates than the Democrats this year, which is to say they have one.)
Donna Campbell stomped Jeff Wentworth, taking two-thirds of the vote against a long-time incumbent which (absent a serious scandal) is almost unheard of. However, the result isn’t the “upset” some newspapers are proclaiming it, since Elizabeth Ames Jones split the anti-Wentworth vote in the primary, indicating deep dissatisfaction with the very establishment incumbent.
As expected, Paul Sadler beat Grady Yarbrough for the Democratic Senate nomination. Sadler is about to find out that when members of the national Democratic Party promised him adequate funding if he won the primary, they were engaged in what is commonly known as “lying.”
Republican U.S. Congressional Race runoffs: Ron Paul-endorsed Randy Weber beat Felicia Harris in CD14, Roger Williams beats Wes Riddle in CD25 (Last Williams Standing, and I think the only Senate race dropout to win their new race), once and future congressman Steve Stockman (part of the Gingrich wave in 1994) beat Stephen Takach in CD36. Plus longshots in two heavily Democratic districts: Dale A. Brueggemann over Eddie Zamora in CD15 to face incumbent Ruben Hinojosa, and Jessica Puente Bradshaw over Adela Garza to take on Filemon Vela in new “minority opportunity” CD34.
Pete Gallego beat former congressman Ciro B. Rodriguez for the chance to take on Republican incumbent Francisco “Quico” Canseco in CD23. Canseco took the seat away from Rodriguez in 2010, and CD23 is essentially the only realistic opportunity Democrats have to flip a Texas U.S. congressional seat this election.
The Tea Party is alive and well not only in Texas, but also in Georgia, where voters rejected a consultant pocket-lining mass transportation tax hike supported by the Republican governor.
If you didn’t watch last night’s Belo debate between Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst, the executive summary is: Cruz won decisively. And despite Dewhurst’s agreement to participate in five runoff debates with Cruz, this debate was the last of two.
Here’s video of it from WFAA so you can judge for yourself:
Both candidates have improved their debating skills as the campaign has gone on: Cruz has gone from being exceptionally good to great, while Dewhurst has improved from dismal to merely poor. Dewhurst just does not know how to make clear, concise points during a debate. Time and time again, he started an answer, and then a second answer, and then a third, without finishing the first. Save Elizabeth Ames Jones, who has an actual speech impediment, Dewhurst may be the worst speaker in the Texas Senate race this cycle, major or minor, on either side. With all the money he’s spending on this race, and his obvious weakness, you’d think Dewhurst would hire someone just for debate prep.
By contrast, Cruz’s decision to attend essentially every candidate forum and debate over the last 18 months has served him very well, not only from generating grassroots enthusiasm for his campaign, but also how direct and concise his answers have become from months of honing them. I had some criticisms early in the campaign about Cruz sometimes reaching for his stock answers too transparently. But now Cruz seems to have a clear, concise answer for every question put to him, and has achieved such fluidity with them that they never seem canned or forced. None of the questions in last nights debate gave Cruz opportunity to use his father’s life story (compelling though it is), so he didn’t trot it out, which was the right decision.
By contrast, it was Dewhurst’s constant refrain of “I’m a jobs creator” that seemed forced and transparent. Even worse was his answer to the wage tax question, insisting he was against it, but never addressing all the contemporaneous media reports he was in favor of it. He also backtracked, saying the wage tax didn’t go anywhere, Cruz pointing out that it passed the senate, and Dewhurst admitting that yes, it did pass the senate (you know, the legislative chamber Dewhurst runs).
Of the seven or eight topics covered, Cruz dominated all but one. (On a question of cutting spending or buying the Texas-built F-35, both Cruz and Dewhurst said they would listen to the military experts, and for once Dewhurst’s answer was free of backtracking and stumbles.) On the few policy questions where the candidates differed, Cruz had demonstrably more conservative positions. (“I disagree with the premise of your question. I don’t think it’s government’s job to provide health care.”)
This was also far and away the best moderated of the Texas debates, nearly free of liberal policy assumptions, and moderator Brad Watson was extremely good at getting candidates to focus on the actual question. He also got in an introductory dig, noting that there was a runoff because Dewhurst couldn’t “seal the deal.” (Burn!)
After the debate, Tom Leppert endorsed Dewhurst, which I don’t see moving the needle much in either direction. It was a good (if transparent) move by Team Dewhurst to blunt any possible Cruz momentum from the debate, which suggests that going in that they were pretty sure Dewhurst would lose.
Numerous nuggets of non-Senate race information and observation on Tuesday’s election:
Two years ago, Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones were both on the Railroad Commission. Sixteen months ago they were serious U.S. Senate candidates. Now each has missed the runoff for their respective down-ballot races, U.S. CD 25 and Texas SD 25, respectively. (Donna Campbell made the runoff with Jeff Wentworth for SD25.) Evidently the Railroad Commission is a poor stepping stone to higher or lower office. Or at least for the 25th District of anything…
Here’s an updated list of the declared 2012 Texas senate candidate’s websites, along with any subsidiary pages that change frequently (in-the-news, press releases, etc.), along with their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and FEC fundraising report pages, plus any additional pages worth noting. (For example, Tom Leppert’s website provides links to his LinkedIn page, and his YouTube and Flickr streams, so I have included those here.) I’ve also tried to be flexible; Ted Cruz doesn’t have links for separate YouTube or Flickr sites, so I’ve included similar pages on his campaign page.
Consider this a one-stop research stop for lazy efficient journalists and bloggers (as well as a handy cheat-cheat for myself, since I’ve been doing extensive coverage of the race).
Where candidates have sign-up splash screens, I have omitted those to go straight to the website (or, for Facebook links, their wall).
Websites for 2012 Republican Senate Runoff Candidates
First, Texas Right to Life PAC endorses David Dewhurst. That’s a very good pickup for him, as he has not exactly been overwhelmed with conservative endorsements. I’m sure the Ted Cruz campaign is not happy that Dewhurst snagged this one. (Also not happy: ex-senate candidate Elizabeth Ames Jones, now running for the state senate from District 25…where they endorsed rival Donna Campbell for the same seat the same week Jones (who has repeatedly stressed her pro-life credentials) got into the race…)
Of the two, I have to rank the Dewhurst endorsement as the better pickup, mainly because his conservative endorsements for this race have been thin on the ground.
Can Dewhurst snag more conservative endorsements? Maybe. He’s been endorsed by groups like the NRA and Texans for Lawsuit Reform in the past…but that was when he was running against Democrats as Lt. Governor. Such groups may decide that Cruz is the better alternative, or pass on endorsing anyone before the primary.
Setting aside of the question of why you would want to move from the Railroad Commission to the State Senate (which seems like a slight downgrade to me), the Senate District 25 race already had one Tea Party challenger to Wentworth in Donna Campbell, who may find herself financially outgunned if Jones transfers her U.S. Senate race money. (Naturally, Wenworth wants Jones to return the money.) There have been mutterings in some quarters (at least stretching back to last decade’s redistricting fight) that Wentworth is too liberal for his district. Should all three stay in, this should prove to be a very interesting primary fight.
Clearly Jones was overdue to get out of the Senate race, and had been for some time. Not only were David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz firmly established as the top two candidates, but they and Tom Leppert were all clearly outperforming Jones in every phase of the campaign. From all that I could see, Jones performed poorly at the the various candidate debates and forums and fell woefully behind in the fundraising race. I think there was a much greater possibility that Jones could have come in behind long-shot Glenn Addison in the March primary than that she could overtake Cruz or Dewhurst.
Jones was the very first candidate to declare for the U.S. Senate race, filing her paperwork way back on November 3, 2008, but never seemed to gain any traction once additional candidates jumped in after Kay Baily Hutchison announced she was retiring.
This is good news for the Ted Cruz campaign, and bad news for David Dewhurst, since it gives Cruz a clearer shot at him. Dewhurst clearly has no desire to debate Cruz one-on-one, and the more candidates in the race, the less likely it is for conservative voters to coalesce around Cruz as the anti-Dewhurst campaign.
Now that Jones is out, will Leppert bow out as well? I doubt it. Though he clearly hasn’t caught fire, Leppert has (thanks to a generous measure of self-funding) stayed on pace with the front-runners in the fundraising derby, and he’s clearly a better campaigner, and has a much better organization, than Jones. My hunch says that he stays in until March, and then comes in a distant third. But there’s still an awful lot of campaign left…
I suppose I should do these updates some day other than Friday night Saturday morning, since few people read them then or over the weekend, but it’s been a busy week…
Mario Loyola discusses Ted Cruz and his father Rafael as part of a longer story on the Cuban exile experience in America, the widespread Cuban opposition to the Batista regime, and how Castro betrayed the revolution to impose Communism. And he delivers such a complete and utter bitchslapping of The Dallas Morning News that I have to quote the last few paragraphs:
Cubans here and there have had to endure the calamities of the Revolution alone. Conservatives in America reached out to us and supported us, and our parents found solace in their enmity to Communism. But they weren’t really with us either, because they had no idea how awful Fidel Castro really was. It simply isn’t within the comprehension of any American that someone could actually choose to be as evil as Castro. The sheer depravity of his crimes against the Cuban people helped to keep the depredations of his rule a secret hiding in plain sight, where only other Cubans could see them.
It’s no surprise that liberal papers such as the Dallas Morning News now think they’re in some position to judge which families are truly exiles and which aren’t. It was liberal papers — particularly the New York Times — that originally built Castro up into an international hero and persisted in romanticizing him long after he offered Cuba’s young men to the Kremlin as a Third World army. It was liberal papers that blamed the U.S. embargo for the economic catastrophe into which Castro plunged Cuba. It was liberal newspapers that helped to occlude the unspeakable daily abuses of Castro’s regime beneath the fantasy of a romantic nationalist who was bravely willing to stand up to imperialism.
“There is power,” the Dallas Morning News tells us, “in linking your past and your future to this unending struggle [against Fidel]. But because the fathers of both these men [Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio] migrated several years before the revolution, as is now clear, the link is at best a stretch. In the case of Cruz, the situation is even more complicated because his father originally supported Castro.” What utter nonsense. It would be offensive if the editors actually had any idea what they were talking about. No Cuban exile would for a second say that the Rubio and Cruz families were any less exile than anyone else. All of our families lost their homeland. That some were already here when it happened is irrelevant — nobody meant to forsake Cuba by coming here. We lost Cuba because Castro took it from us, from all of us, born and unborn, both here and back there.
Among Cuban-Americans, having been an early supporter of Castro in no way diminishes your anti-Communist credentials. On the contrary, it is the typical story for almost every family. Virtually all of our families opposed the dictatorship of Batista. Virtually all of our families believed Castro’s rhetoric of democracy and liberty. The first thing everyone hated about him was his evident relish in betraying his most ardent supporters. That was the first of many very personal reasons he would give us to hate him, reasons that only we can really understand.
What makes us exiles is not merely the fact that our families can’t go back to Cuba. It is that Castro wantonly ruined the land that our families grew up in, the land of our forefathers, and now that land exists only in the fading black-and-white pictures and memories of the happy childhoods of a generation that is dying now. Compared with that, what possible difference could it make that our grandparents arrived one year and not another? Senator Rubio didn’t know exactly what year his father first got here because it doesn’t matter.
Still, I can’t say that I’m terribly surprised by the Dallas Morning News’s display of presumptuousness and ignorance. The editors are decent people, and if they knew even 5 percent of what I know about the Revolution and its exiles, I’m sure they would be deeply ashamed of what they’ve written. But they don’t and they never will — Castro has already seen to that.
Read the whole thing.
Speaking of people that Mario Loyola just made look like petty, misinformed idiots, The Dallas Morning News‘s Robert T. Garrett (who we talked about last week) covers Cruz’s accusations of MSM outlets like The Dallas Morning News targeting conservative Hispanics. Tune in next week for Garrett reporting on Cruz’s complaints about Garrett’s reporting on Cruz’s complaints. Presumably from the inside of a mirror box.
The Ted Cruz campaign has challenged David Dewhurst to five one-on-one Lincoln-Douglas debates (and the King Street Patriots were quick to agree to host at least one). This is a smart way for Cruz to help break further away from Tom Leppert and Elizabeth Ames Jones, and turn the race into a two man contest between him and Dewhurst…which is why Dewhurst would be foolish to take Cruz up on the offer. And, indeed, he does not seem so inclined.
ABC News notices the hit pieces on conservative Hispanic politicians in this interview with Cruz:
New Revolution Now emailed to say that Cruz won the straw poll at the Tuesday’s Texarkana senate forum. The total results were:
This page on possible Senate race takeover targets had the Texas race down at 21st (i.e., not bloody likely), and had this to say: “Ricardo Sanchez hasn’t made the impact the local Democrats hoped he would.” Indeed.
Evidently all tuckered out from his 18-minute interview October 23, Sanchez seems to have returned to hibernation this week.
Other than appearing in that poll and turning 55 on October 29, Elizabeth Ames Jones doesn’t seem to have been much more active than Sanchez. Hey, here’s an idea: They’re both from San Antonio. Why not meet each other for a weekly debate? Nothing else they’re doing seems to be attracting donations or attention, and both need to bone up on their public speaking skills…
According to an email from the New Revolution Now folks, Cruz won the straw poll for the Tyler candidate forum, with 39%, Glenn Addison came in second with 30%, Lela Pettinger took third with 18%, and Tom Leppert took fourth with 10% (which is, I think, an improvement from his previous straw poll performances). David Dewhurst, Elizabeth Ames Jones, and Ricardo Sanchez all polled less than 1%. And Jones was scheduled to be at the forum…
Addison raised $35,059 for the Q3 fundraising quarter. This brings his total fundraising up to $60,486, and he has $35,557 on hand. While that amount will not cause Dewhurst or Cruz to lose sleep, it’s still impressive for a longshot candidate. It’s also more than a third what ostensibly “serious” candidate Ricardo Sanchez raised this quarter, and Addison did it without (as far as I can tell) a professional campaign staff or professional fundraisers. If someone with Addison’s intelligence and drive were competing in the Democratic primary, Sanchez would be in serious trouble…
The Wall Street Journal does a piece on the Tom Leppert-occupy Wall Street story, clarifying that Washington Mutual, upon whose board Leppert sat, didn’t receive a bailout, but that J.P. Morgan Chase, which absorbed WaMu assets at a deep discount after WaMu melted down, did.
Both Sanchez and Sean Hubbard (according to his Facebook page) will be speaking at the Dallas County Democratic Party’s Annual Fish Fry Friday, October 21. Strangely enough, however, Sanchez’s name is the only one on the flyer.
Sorry, absolutely no Stanley Garza news to be had. Believe me, I looked.
Finally, according to his Facebook and Twitter feeds, Glenn Addison became a grandfather today. Congratulations!
The Cruz campaign alerted me to a new poll from the Azimuth Research Group that shows David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz neck and neck. In fact, they show Cruz leading, 32% to 31%, though they note that before rounding, the actual amount is less than 1%, and in any case within the +/-3% margin of error. Tom Leppert was third with 8%, Lela Pittenger as fourth with 5%, and Elizabeth Ames Jones edged out Glenn Addison for fifth, 4% to 3%.
While this is certainly good news for the Cruz campaign, a few caveats are in order:
Azimuth is a relatively new polling organization; in fact, I think they only started doing polling this year. Without a track record to for results in previous elections, there is no way to judge how effective their polling methodology is.
That, plus Pittenger coming in fourth, would suggest that the poll disproportionately samples people who are unusually active in politics, and thus not reflective of the actual makeup of Republican primary voters, which would boost Cruz in comparison to Dewhurst.
As such, I would take these results with several grains of salt until replicated by one of the more established polling services like Gallup or Zogby.
Still, even with those caveats, this is great news for Cruz five months out from the primary, as it shows a huge bump from the PPP poll of a month ago, which showed him at 12%. Even if you think the methodology overstates Cruz’s gain by 50%, that would still put him at 22%, a 10% increase in a single month. The poll was conducted 10/12-10/17, so it might show the effect of Cruz’s National Review cover appearance.
Outlier or not, I can’t imagine anyone is happy with this result over at the Dewhurst campaign. With his money and name recognition, Dewhurst was supposed to be winning the race running away at this point. He’s not.
BattleSwarm Blog gets named by the Ted Cruz campaign as the blog of the week. Sweet! Though I do feel compelled to point out that I have not endorsed any Senate candidate, that I try to give all the candidates a fair shake, and report things as I seem them without fear or favor. That said, I think Cruz is a very strong, conservative candidate who has run a very smart, effective campaign.
The Hill reports on the China dust-up. “It shows that Dewhurst is taking Cruz’s challenge very seriously, and that the two do not fear going on the attack against one another.”
Elizabeth Ames Jones is keynoting the the DUG Eagle Ford Conference, which is not for owners of a particular model of car, but which is about developing unconventional gas. Again, while it’s good that she’s taking her day job as Railroad Commissioner seriously, these days Jones’ event schedule makes it look like she’s running for Secretary of Energy in a Perry Presidential administration more than she’s running for the U.S. Senate.
There will be another candidate forum in Tyler this Saturday, at the Ramada Inn Conference Center, 3310 Troup Highway, Tyler, TX 75701. In attendance will be Cruz, Leppert, Jones, Glenn Addison, Andrew Castanuela, Lela Pettinger and Curt Cleaver. Lt. Gov. Chupacabra will once again be skipping the festivities.
That flyer is interesting for a number of reasons. Not only do they list and give one page bios for the attendees, but they also do they same for candidates they invited who aren’t attending. In fact, a lot (maybe all) Tea Party event have invited all the declared candidates, and I don’t know why Democratic longshots Sean Hubbard and Stanley Garza haven’t taken advantage of the offer, since their campaigns are generating zero buzz otherwise, and the forums would provide a chance for more exposure.
Finally, signs of a Ricardo Sanchez campaign! He’ll be holding a “kickoff fundraiser” in Austin on Tuesday, October 18. Given that Sanchez first announced he was running on May 11, isn’t October a little late to be holding a kickoff fundraiser? What’s he been doing the past five months?