Last night, the Tea Party again showed a strength it did not have two years ago. Candidate Ted Cruz never before held elective office. Now he has won a runoff against the Lieutenant Governor of Texas. This fall he will almost surely take the place of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), who will leave the Senate next term.
A Tea Party Blowout
The runoff between Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst was not even close. Overall, Cruz took 57 percent of the vote; Dewhurst took 43 percent. It wasn’t supposed to happen. Governor Rick Perry, retired Houston Astros Pitcher Nolan Ryan, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, and ESPN commentator Craig James all endorsed Dewhurst. The Leppert and James endorsements should have decided the race, and might have under any other circumstances. Dewhurst and Cruz finished first and second in the Republican primary nine weeks ago. Leppert and James finished third and fourth. So Leppert and James should have delivered all their votes to Dewhurst and given him a commanding lead.
Ted Cruz, speaking to a Tea Party express rally in Austin, TX. Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License.
They did not. The Tea Party movement was too strong for that. This chart tells the story. Dewhurst did not even carry Dallas County, of which Dallas is the seat. Cruz and his Tea Party voters captured all six counties in the Texas Triangle: Dallas, Tarrant (Fort Worth), Travis (Austin), Bexar (San Antonio), Harris (Houston), and Galveston. Furthermore, the Tea Party showed a broad geographical base. Dewhurst won fewer than twenty percent of all Texas counties, and most of these by small margins. Turnout was low: 8.5 percent overall, and varying from 4 to 22 percent in the counties.
This is a tribute to Republican women, Tea Party leaders, and grassroots conservatives. This is how an election should be decided: by We, the People!
Democrat Paul Sadler won his own runoff to face Cruz this fall. No one gives him good odds. About Cruz, Sadler said:
[I stand] alone as the only nominee of a major political party in Texas[. The] Texas Republican Party has been hijacked by the tea party.
The numbers do not bear this out. First, Cruz won by double digits. Second, Cruz won broadly, in big-city and rural counties.
A Minority Conservative
Tad Cronn of Godfather Politics pointed out that Ted Cruz, like Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), is a Cuban-American. He thus gives the lie to the proposition that white men dominate the Republican Party and the Tea Party. In fact, Cruz’ roots are deeper. His father made it to the USA in 1957. Cruz was born in 1971. (Because he was born in Calgary, in Canada, he is not a natural born citizen. But that does not stop him from running for the Senate.)
Cruz served the state most memorably as Solicitor General. But the Senate will be his first elected office.