Last week saw one of the most senior Republicans in the Senate, Richard Lugar of Indiana, lose his seat in his state’s primary. Now, another favorite is being targeted by the Tea Party. In Texas, the Republicans are choosing a candidate to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is retiring following her calamitous run for governor against Rick Perry, where she only received 30% of the vote in the 2010 primary. This primary is scheduled for May 29, but early voting starts tomorrow.
The two main candidates in the Texas primary are Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz. A poll taken recently showed Dewhurst with a seemingly impregnable lead, 51% to 16%, with the remainder either undecided or favoring minor candidates. However, in recent days, a number of prominent organizations and individuals have entered the fray in behalf of Cruz.
Sarah Palin, on May 10, endorsed Cruz. She based her endorsement on Cruz ‘passionate defense of our Constitution and our free market system’. Then, the Club for Growth announced that it plans to spend $1 million in advertising on his behalf. The organization contends that Dewhurst is too moderate, which the CFG usually says when someone does not automatically assert that they will reject any tax increase. The Tea Party Express, an integral part of Lugar’s defeat, has thrown its support behind Cruz.
Cruz’ supporters understand that they have little chance of actually winning the May 29th primary. However, they hope that the two other candidates in the contest will secure enough votes so that Dewhurst will get less than 50% of the vote. These two contenders are Tom Leppert, former mayor of Dallas, and Craig James, former SMU running back and ESPN analyst. If they can combine to keep Dewhurst from receiving a majority, then there will be a runoff election between the top two vote-getters. Since only voters with a lot of intensity usually cast ballots in runoff elections, Cruz should have a better chance. Dewhurst is beginning to fight back with his own negative ads against Cruz. He found a case where Cruz defended a Chinese tire company that had taken jobs from an American firm.
This is a very important election for the Republicans. Presumably, because of the demographic changes in the electorate within the state, Texas is expected to become a swing state no later than 2016.