Could Ted Cruz Turn Texas Blue?
Some of Texas’ moderate Republicans say the state’s far-right turn since Sen. Ted Cruz’s political ascendancy could have unintended consequences.
At a breakfast in Washington’s St. Regis Hotel in June, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, took a moment to gather his thoughts before he was ready to answer a question about how junior Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had changed his home state.
“Texas is pretty big and pretty diverse,” Perry said peering intently through his black horn-rimmed glasses. “I’m not sure one person has the ability to change all of that.”
A few seconds later, he clarified exactly where he think Cruz stands: “We all get our 15 seconds of fame.”
But two years after Cruz defeated Perry protege Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a runoff for the U.S. Senate, the freshman lawmaker’s resonance may stretch beyond what can be classified as initial buzz or beginner’s luck. Cruz has emerged as the symbol for the tea party, eclipsing darlings like Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., on the stump. Cruz’s Cinderella-style victory in Texas in 2012 redefined what was possible in a state where big money and well-connected names traditionally win races.
“Cruz proved that if you have sufficient resources to be credible, and you have authentic conservative credentials, you can win races that 10 years or more ago in Texas no one thought you could win,” says GOP state strategist Matt Mackowiak. “He has provided the playbook for how you win as an outsider.”