Republican Senate primary candidate David Dewhurst has countered rival Ted Cruz’s “Tea Party Express” with “the Ryan Express.”

Texas Rangers owner and former Rangers/Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan endorsed the Lite Guv Friday, in a video that was posted on the Dewhurst For Texas website:

Ryan’s statement said, “[Dewhurst] is a proven conservative who has delivered results for Texans, time and time again,” as well as “a businessman, a veteran, and native Texan who understands the challenges we face as a state and as a nation. Texas has created more jobs than any other state in the nation and we’ve developed the best business climate in America because of leaders like David Dewhurst.”

In response, Robert T Garrett of the Dallas Morning News asked:

Could that “native Texan” line have been an oblique — maybe, subliminal — reference to the fact that Dewhurst’s opponent in the July 31 Senate GOP runoff is Ted Cruz, who was born in Calgary, Alberta? (To Houston residents who were running an oil-drilling seismic data firm up there?)

“There are few human beings, let alone conservatives, who are more popular than Ryan in the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Abby Livingston of Roll Call explained to the Capital Hill crowd. (She end of her post with another obvious point, writing that “Roll Call rates the Texas Senate race as Safe Republican.”)

But as a few people on Twitter noted, Ryan’s endorsement hardly guarantees a victory:

Nor has Ryan always gone for Dewhurst: in 2002, he supported former state comptroller John Sharp against the then-land commisioner, which means not only did he go for a Democrat, he also picked another loser.

All of the above led to a bit of low-grade Twitter spatting between Cruz and Dewhurst supporters, with Texas broadcast journalist and blogger Scott Braddock mediating (and taking exception to anyone who would impugn Nolan Ryan):

Looking ahead to tonight’s last-minute debate in Houston, the blog Perry vs. World believesthat Dewhurst, having unveiled the endorsement of former Dallas mayor (and third-place primary finisher) Tom Leppert after last Tuesday’s forum, might break out a bigger gun tonight–perhaps none other than Hutchison herself, though George W. Bush’s name was also floated as a possibility.

Either endorsement could be huge attention-getters for the undecided or unmotivated voter, but not for peeling off any support from Cruz, as Hutchison and Dubya represent the same so-called “moderate” conciliatory political style Cruz’s campaign attacks Dewhurst for. 

Early voting for Texas’s July 31 runoff election begins today.