Every idea that comes out of the Dewhurst campaign these days is a Rick Perry retread. Dewhurst has been reduced to reciting Perry’s lines. The latest effort to make Dewhurst sound like he is saying something new is a variation on Perry’s “take a sledgehammer to the ways of Washington” proposal during his presidential race.

Perry’s proposal to “uproot the federal government” included a part-time Congress whose salaries and office budgets would be reduced by half. Dewhurst’s plan is to reduce congressional pay and benefits, impose term limits on members of Congress, and impose restrictions on lobbying after they leave office.

I’m not surprised that the Dewhurst/Perry campaign is recycling Perry’s arguments, but it might stop to reflect that the Perry proposals amounted to a one-day story in the National Journal and then disappeared. There was no constituency for Perry’s ideas then, and there is no constituency for them now.

The Dewhurst/Perry campaign is trying to reprise its success in labeling Kay Bailey Hutchison as a creature of Washington in 2010 by hanging the same label on Cruz. It worked with Hutchison because she had been a senator since 1993. But Cruz hasn’t served a day in public office, nor has he fed at the public trough except as a state employee in the attorney general’s office. Not a rich source of perks.

I sympathize with the Dewhurst/Perry team in a way. They can’t find an opening to attack Cruz. He hasn’t left a lot of fingerprints. He’s a cipher with no public record. The only opening they have found is a lawsuit Cruz handled in private practice in which he unsuccessfully defended a Chinese company that lost a $26 million jury verdict, which went in favor of an American businessman. But recycling Rick Perry’s forgotten arguments is not the path to victory.