It’s Rick Perry. Well, not exactly. What has happened is that Team Perry has taken over the Dewhurst campaign. Dave Carney is in charge. Mark Miner has joined the communications team. Rob Johnson is heading up the Super PAC. Everyone understands what that means. It means that the Perry playbook will be the textbook for Dewhurst’s runoff campaign against Ted Cruz. And the contents of the playbook have never been a secret. Chapter One is “Always attack.” Chapter Two is “If the first attack doesn’t work, try another one.” Chapter Three is “The only good use for earth is to scorch it.”
The unsolved mystery of Perry’s deep involvement in the Dew’s Senate race is why he cares. He must think he can benefit by Dewhurst’s going to the Senate.
How? In the first place, it is to Perry’s advantage to have an ally in the Senate, assuming he intends to remain active in state and national politics. Texas’s senior senator, John Cornyn, and Perry are not close. Nor does Perry have a lot of friends in the Texas congressional delegation. He won no allies in the delegation by running for governor against Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2010 with an anti-Washington message that irked all the members of the delegation, not to mention rubbing off on many of them. Most members of Congress work hard. They regard Perry as a show horse, rather than a workhorse. Cruz is certainly no friend of Perry’s, and he is also a rival for Perry as the leader of the tea party in Texas. That leaves only Dewhurst as a possible ally.
Finally, it’s possible that Perry can gain from Dewhurst’s departure by the simple possibility that Dewhurst would no longer be light gov. The Texas Senate would have to choose a successor, and Perry, as governor, would be in a position to influence that selection, which could prove to be useful if he remains in office as governor.
As I wrote in a previous post, the issue of how to run against Cruz is crucial. Cruz is a grassroots candidate. Dewhurst clearly is not. He is the establishment candidate. Cruz has an edge in using social media to contact his voter base and get them to the polls. Dewhurst’s failure to reach 50% in the closing days of the primary race indicates the campaign’s lack of a social media strategy that can identify and turn out his voters.
Carney will follow his usual strategy of attacking his opponent in the media. This strategy has the dual benefit of weakening Dewhurst’s opponent and providing consultants with more income from the placement of advertising. But how many bombs does Dewhurst have left to throw at Cruz? They have already hit him with an attack on his representation of a Chinese company that ended up having to pay a large jury verdict to an American competitor. A claim that Cruz supported amnesty for illegal aliens did not appear to have much credibility. What else is left? If the Dewhurst campaign is out of bombshell revelations, they could find themselves on the defensive in the closing days of the runoff.
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