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Cruz Control

Musings on a presidential campaign.

By May 2016Comments

While on deadline for this issue, I watched Senator Ted Cruz surge to victory in the Wisconsin primary, and I was struck by the fact that he is moving into a new phase of his presidential campaign. “We are winning because we are uniting the Republican party,” he said in his victory speech. “Uniting” is not a word that typically comes to mind when I think about Cruz, and that’s exactly how he has wanted it. The anti-establishment, anti–federal government message that has endeared him to voters here has made him toxic in Washington, D.C., even among members of his own party. In fact, let me rephrase that: particularly among members of his own party. As Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, put it, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”

And yet, here was Cruz looking to bring together what is left of the GOP in an effort to defeat Donald Trump. That’s a dynamic my colleague Erica Grieder explores in “Round the Bend” as she sizes up the mess that Republicans are going to have to sweep up regardless of who prevails. A reckoning is coming no matter what.

I am also struck by what the hyper-partisanship of our day means back home. Cruz has positioned himself as the newest face in a long line of presidential contenders from Texas: John Nance Garner, Lyndon Johnson, John Connally, Lloyd Bentsen, George H. W. Bush, Phil Gramm, George W. Bush, and Rick Perry. But the formula that has propelled Cruz to the forefront of the national conversation has also diminished the quality of our state officials: Attorney General Ken Paxton is facing felony charges and has continued to hurt his office’s reputation by piling on the bad decisions. Agriculture commissioner Sid Miller can barely put on his Stetson without committing some sort of gaffe. And it didn’t help that on Super Tuesday, Mary Lou Bruner, who has said that Barack Obama once worked as a gay prostitute and that climate change is a hoax being pushed by Communists, won 48 percent of the vote and a spot in the run-off for a seat on the State Board of Education.

For Cruz, who has spent his short time in the Senate working for a narrow base, the question remains whether he can embrace a more mainstream role. That’s something Grieder will watch carefully in her ongoing coverage of Cruz, which will include reporting from the Republican National Convention, in July. Read her in our pages and on Burkablog every day. Who knows? The story just may end with another Texan in the White House.

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  • Jed

    why not the democratic national convention?

  • William Gould

    You assert that Cruz “has spent his short time in the Senate working for a narrow base,” but a look at his record since taking office, according to govtrack.us, shows that from January 2013 to April 2016, he’s missed 181 of 1,055 roll call votes, which is 17.2%.
    This is
    much worse than

    the median of 1.6%
    among the lifetime records of senators currently serving.missed almost every vote. The only person he’s working for is himself.

    has
    spent his short time in the Senate working for a narrow base – See more
    at:
    http://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/covering-cruz/#sthash.jSpv2qmN.dpuf
    has
    spent his short time in the Senate working for a narrow base – See more
    at:
    http://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/covering-cruz/#sthash.jSpv2qmN.dpuf

  • William Gould

    You assert that Cruz “has spent his short time in the Senate working for a narrow base,” but it’s much worse than that. According to the website govtrack.us, between January 2013 and April of this year, he missed 181 of 1,055 roll call votes — 17.2 percent.
    This is
    much worse than

    the median of 1.6 percent
    among the lifetime records of senators currently serving. I would suggest that Cruz is working for no one but himself, as he’s certainly not doing the job he was elected to do.