Washington Post writer Aaron Blake pays serious attention to Ted Cruz, and his role as Tea Party favorite. It’s a decent write-up for an out-of-state MSM outlet playing catch-up, but there are several statements about which I have at least some minor quibbles.
For example, take this sentence
That’s because he’s emerging as a potential top-tier candidate in the Lone Star state race, posing a real tea party threat to better-funded candidates in what should be one of the most expensive primary races in the country.
There’s two things wrong with that sentence:
- Cruz isn’t “a potential top-tier candidate,” he’s arguably already the frontrunner.
- Saying that he’s “posing a real tea party threat to better-funded candidates” suggests that there are, in fact, better-funded candidates. Leppert only has more money on hand thanks to a $1.6 million loan (discounting loans, in Q1 Leppert pulled in slightly over $1 million, and Cruz pulled in slightly under $1 million), and even then the rest of Leppert’s fundraising relied heavily on max contributions from a limited number of Dallas-area donors. So Cruz is about as well-funded as anyone in the race right now. (Would Lt. Governor David Dewhurst change that if he jumped into the race? If he really wanted to commit a substantial portion of his personal fortune (consistently rumored, without verifiable attribution, to be around $200 million), yes it would.)
Likewise his suggestion that Leppert is one of the “big boys” (outside of Dallas, his profile is no bigger than Cruz’s) seems misguided.
Then there’s this:
Dewhurst is the prohibitive favorite if he gets in, and Leppert has made a big splash early with his fundraising. But many conservatives aren’t waiting for Dewhurst—choosing instead to rally around Cruz.
I think “prohibitive favorite” overstates the case a bit (I would use “formidable”), but the idea that conservatives have ever “waited” on Dewhurst is off-base.
As so many other Republican politicians do, Dewhurst occupies that vast gray area between a RINO (think Arlen Specter before he went The Full Benedict) and a real movement conservative. The phrase “a self-described ‘George Bush Republican'” appears, unsourced, in his Wikipedia entry (and thus is automatically suspect), and sums up the feelings of many conservatives towards Dewhurst. He ran as a conservative, and mostly governed as a conservative, but every now and then he would go off on Big Government tangents that would infuriate proponents of limited government. Despite this, outside the state, Dewhurst is regarded as something of an “arch-conservative” for shepherding through the (constitutionally-required) 2003 redistricting.
I wouldn’t go so far as to compare him to Charlie Crist (as some have), but there’s been real dissatisfaction with Dewhurst among movement conservatives, and it came to the fore with this year’s legislative sessions, where, despite having controlling majorities in both House and Senate, conservative Republicans found their agenda being thwarted in many ways great and small by Dewhurst in the Senate and Speaker Joe Straus in the House. Hence state senator (and possible U.S. Senate candidate) Dan Patrick’s lashing out at Dewhurst for thwarting his anti-TSA goping bill. Dewhurst managed to get the big things done (i.e., getting a budget passed without a tax hike), but there’s a sense among conservatives that he could have gotten a lot more conservative bills passed if he really wanted to, and that he “left money on the table” in the game of legislative poker by compromising when he didn’t have to
So it’s not at all surprising that Dewhurst is viewed as a stanch conservative when viewed from inside the Beltway; by Washington, D.C. standards he is. But there’s a widespread sense among Texas conservatives that they should be able to elect a full-bore movement conservative to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison, and that David Dewhurst isn’t that guy. There was a good deal of debate over whether Ted Cruz or Michael Williams was the preferred choice; with Williams getting out of the race to run for a House seat, the issue has been resolved in Cruz’s favor, as indicated by his impressive array of endorsements.
Still, those quibbles aside, the WaPo piece is a pretty solid look at Cruz, and is well worth reading for those following the Texas Senate Race.
(In the future, Brooks might want to run this sort of piece by Jennifer Rubin, who has a lot better grasp of the nuances of conservative politics than most MSM observers.)