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Ted Cruz and the State Republican Party

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Karen Tumulty, a Texan herself, has a story in yesterday’s Washington Post that says Ted Cruz is reshaping the Texas Republican party:

Just about every GOP candidate with aspirations to statewide office in 2014 seems to be styling himself or herself after Cruz. In tight formation, they are moving hard to the right and looking for the next big populist rallying cry — secession, rolling back the state’s liberal immigration laws, impeaching President Obama, amending the Constitution to end the direct election of U.S. senators.

His aura even extends to local races. “Some people call me the Ted Cruz of the city council,” boasted Helena Brown, who won her seat in Houston in 2011 and has proposed solving the city’s fiscal problems by defaulting on its pension obligations.

It’s hard to argue with that conclusion. The same could have been said at one time of Rick Perry, back in 2009, when he answered a question at a tea party rally that thrust him into the talk about seccession. Perry has been pushing the party to the right ever since he became governor, but he has never had the popularity or the respect that Cruz now enjoys. What is significant about the rise of Cruz is that it nationalizes Texas politics, something Perry and Abbott have been able to accomplish through lawsuits against the federal government. One has to wonder whether, given the current climate of Texas politics, the water plan and the money for roads are in jeopardy at the polls, and, for that matter, whether it will be possible to govern the state and engage in public policy debate in the 2015 legislative session. When politicians start talking about repealing the 17th Amendment, you really have to worry about how far they are willing to go. If Cruz has his way, and I suspect he will, 2014 is going to be a huge tea party year in Texas.

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