OPED: Dewhurst the Right Choice for Texans
The Dewhurst/Cruz showdown is nearly upon us. And although the Democrats are also having their Senate runoff the same day (July 31), it’s understood that the winner of the Republican runoff will have an easy path to Washington. After all, a Democrat has not won state-wide office in Texas since 1994.
Understanding that the winner of the Republican party runoff will be the presumptive winner of the office, the question becomes, who is right for Texas (no pun intended)? Is it the younger, upstart Cruz with his Tea Party rhetoric? Or is it multimillionaire, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who sports ten years in state-wide politics and has dipped into his vast personal fortune to help support his bid for senate?
In the waning days of the process, both candidates have perceived the negative attack is necessary and have gone after one another full-bore. Dewhurst continues to attack Cruz as a self-interested trial lawyer who is more interested in self- promotion through his sinister representation of Chinese business interests. Cruz has been blasting Dewhurst on TV for failing to pass a law that would outlaw sanctuary cities and for supporting a payroll tax while serving as Lieutenant Governor.
To be sure, both Cruz and Dewhurst fundamentally agree on a variety of issues. Both candidates openly oppose the Affordable Care Act , which they negatively refer to as ‘Obamacare.’ They both generally claim a desire to reign in on spending and cut taxes. They also similarly claim border security as a priority.
However, Cruz’s version of conservatism is indeed much more brash and generally can be seen as unwillingness to compromise and work with others including more moderate members of his own party. At Tuesday’s debate, Cruz stated, “I am perfectly happy to compromise whether it’s with Democrats or anybody else…as long as we’re reducing the size of government.” Cruz is seemingly willing to negotiate as long as it is on his own terms.
While Cruz’s brash brand of conservatism is attractive to many, and may even show signs of a principled leader, voters should be reminded he is running for the U.S. Senate. Senators serve 6-year terms in a storied body that is not only a creature of procedure and tradition, but one which requires collaboration. This is not by mistake. Cruz, whose grassroots supporters call for adherence to the Constitution, should note that the office of U.S. Senator was constitutionally created to be a body of experienced representatives whose experience and wisdom called for collaboration. James Madison, in his Federalist No. 62 notes:
The qualifications proposed for senators, as distinguished from those of representatives, consist in a more advanced age and a longer period of citizenship. A senator must be thirty years of age at least; as a representative must be twenty-five. And the former must have been a citizen nine years; as seven years are required for the latter. The propriety of these distinctions is explained by the nature of the senatorial trust, which, requiring greater extent of information and stability of character, requires at the same time that the senator should have reached a period of life most likely to supply these advantages; and which, participating immediately in transactions with foreign nations, ought to be exercised by none who are not thoroughly weaned from the prepossessions and habits incident to foreign birth and education. The term of nine years appears to be a prudent mediocrity between a total exclusion of adopted citizens, whose merits and talents may claim a share in the public confidence, and an indiscriminate and hasty admission of them, which might create a channel for foreign influence on the national councils.
Never working as an elected office holder also hurts Cruz. It is well regarded that celebrity status rarely holds water in the Senate. Cruz has garnered celebrity status in Tea Party ranks, and despite having an impressive resume to be a fine lawyer, that resume, along with a brash brand of conservatism and unwillingness to compromise, will create a senator with little to no influence in the Senate. The last thing Texas needs is another politician who says all the right things, but does not have the practical experience or ability to get business done.
Dewhurst may not be “conservative enough” for some Texans in the far right. However, upon taking the oath of office in the U.S. Senate he would be regarded as one of the most conservative members of the 50-member body. He and Cruz agree on major policy issues. Most importantly, Dewhurst’s nine years as presiding officer of the Texas Senate, his previous success as a Texas business man and his ability to “get things done”, especially in light of Cruz’s take no prisoner attitude, make Dewhurst the best choice for Texans.