Is the Ted Cruz Express on Track?

David Dewhurst's challenger for Kay Bailey Hutchison's Senate seat has the support of Sarah Palin, and Ron and Rand Paul, but a new poll predicts there still won't be a run-off. 
Fri May 11, 2012 7:08 pm
Flickr | Gage Skidmore

The race to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the U.S. Senate is now on the national stage, especially in the wake of Tuesday’s Indiana Republican primary, which saw Tea Party-favored candidate Richard Mourdock oust six-term incumbent Senator Richard Lugar.

“Is Texas Next?” read the headline on a story at the Weekly Standard by its always-infallible editor William Kristol, who wrote:

Where might Tea Party conservatism again rear its (ugly, to the establishment; fetching, to some of us) head?

Texas. Ted Cruz, an impressive young conservative lawyer—recently solicitor general of Texas, before that a Supreme Court law clerk—trails the incumbent lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, by about ten points in the latest polls in the race for the GOP nomination for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat. Cruz has (amazingly) raised almost as much money as Dewhurst (who is wealthy and can self-fund, however).

Kristol goes on to say Cruz “seems to have all the momentum,” and describes Dewhurst’s Chinese tire company attack ads as “desperate.” Kristol concludes:

A U.S. Senate with Ted Cruz (and Josh Mandel of Ohio) joining Marco Rubio and Kelly Ayotte, to mention only two members of the GOP class of 2010, will be a much improved Senate. A Senate with David Dewhurst will be more of the same. 

So after Indiana, for the next three weeks, conservative eyes will be on Texas.

As Aman Batheja of the Texas Tribune noted, the conservative, anti-government spending Club For Growth, which supported Mourdock and has already endorsed Cruz, is doing a $1 million ad buy, for spots that proclaim, “moderate tax-raising David Dewhurst. Wrong for Texas.”

And on the heels of his appearance with (and endorsement from) Ron Paul and Rand Paul in Austin last Sunday, Cruz has also earned the approval of Sarah Palin.

Katrina Pierson of the the Dallas Tea Party told blogger and radio broadcaster Scott Braddock that “the Palin endorsement reinforces the idea that this race has become a national rallying point for ‘movement conservatives.’”

The most recent poll about the race by North Carolina’s Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling was favorable to Cruz. Dewhurst led Cruz 38 percent to 26 percent but in  January, that margin had been 36 percent to eighteen percent. With former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert and former ESPN broadcaster Craig James also in the race, those figures could force Dewhurst to face Cruz in a run-off.

However, as Robert T. Garrett of the Dallas Morning News reported, two newer polls

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