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How Ted Can Get His Cruz Back

A prominent Republican strategist’s advice for our now-beleaguered junior senator.

By December 2016Comments

Alex Wong/Getty

Now that the craziest presidential election of our lifetimes is over, Texas political observers can turn their attention to the next big race: Ted Cruz’s attempt to retain his Senate seat. Cruz, an already divisive figure, took a series of hits during the campaign thanks to his on-again, off-again, on-again embrace of Donald Trump. In Texas in particular, many Republicans were angry that he failed to endorse Trump at the Republican National Convention. Things have gotten bad enough that people are now speculating that Cruz may have a serious primary fight in his 2018 Senate contest.

How can Cruz avoid that? We asked veteran Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak, president of the Potomac Strategy Group, to offer some advice to the embattled pol.

Cruz begins any primary challenge with significant advantages: universal name ID, the power of incumbency, a record so conservative that there is literally no room to his right, and massive fund-raising lists. He does, though, have three potential vulnerabilities: the perception that he ran for the Senate to run for president (and will again), that he selfishly hurt Trump, and that he is ineffective in Washington.

Cruz needs to address these weaknesses by working to produce achievements in Congress. His perch on the Senate Commerce Committee offers broad regulatory potential and his seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee gives him an opportunity to pass bipartisan border security legislation.

He must also repair broken relationships on Capitol Hill. To that end, he recently transferred $100,000 from his own campaign fund to help elect Republicans to the Senate, and in October he co-hosted major fundraisers for Senate colleagues.

Cruz must also begin raising money immediately and aggressively; strengthen his statewide organization, which hasn’t been fully mobilized since 2012; and convince his most ardent critics—major GOP donors in Texas—that he will work assiduously for the state’s economic and constituent interests and listen more closely to their concerns.

As for potential challengers, all eyes are on Congressman Michael McCaul, who looks good on paper: he’s a recognized leader on national security and border security, he has achievements he can sell, and his district includes the Austin and Houston media markets.

McCaul may ultimately pass, because he likely doesn’t want to give up his safe congressional seat or his valuable Homeland Security Committee chairmanship. The price to run is high.

Cruz needs to remind him, and any other circling vultures, exactly how high.

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  • CrankyCat

    Ted Cruz burned any dried-up, minuscule credibility he might ever have had to the ground when he read Green Eggs and Ham on the floor of the Senate.

    Stay away from my Dr. Seuss, you creep!

  • BOB

    Yet another reason I envy Texas…having politicians of Cruz’s caliber is a rare thing.

  • Robert Bruce

    So lucky to have both. they should not be opposing each other. we need to stand firmly behind both in the present positions. reform is in the air, and these are two of the best. stay the course in 2018. put Texas and the USA first. There’s plenty of time for “career advancement” later, they are both young men.

    • St. Anger
  • pwt7925

    The best thing for Cruz to do would be to actually do his job as a Senator and show that he is engaged and interested in that position, and demonstrate to the people of Texas that he’s actually interested in representing their interests as a whole, in addition to his more partisan priorities.. He appears to have given lip service to the job he was actually elected to, but was clearly aiming for the Presidency from the outset and let that effort divert his attention from his day job. One of his greatest skills has always been to fire up the base, and to make fiery speeches before groups that already agree with him, with the notable exception of his speech at the Republican Convention. He’s been lackluster or lackadaisical in doing anything else related to his Senatorial duties. He’s never devoted much effort to convincing anyone else.

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    Security Agencies Brief Top Congressional Representatives (Gang of
    12) in a Secret Meeting in September 2016, All Democrats Proposed
    That America Should Know, Most Not All Republicans Wanted to Suppress
    the Information from the Public. Notably Mitch McConnell Was Adamant
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    Top Presidential Staff Job, Definite Conflict of Interest

    This Is Not a Democratic or Republican Issue, Everyone Should Be Concerned
    about a Foreign Government Actively Trying to Swing the Outcome of
    Our Elections, and Is Most Troubling about the Corporation of
    American Citizens in This Treasonous Acts God help us