Texas Senate Showdown: Four Weeks To Go

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Republicans

Ted Cruz is as virulently opposed to gay people and their choices as the next Republican. That is, unless those choices include giving him money. This week, the Texas Tribune reported that Cruz's largest longtime contributor is the rich gay man Peter Thiel.

To give you a scope of how supportive Thiel is of the most awkward man in Texas after David Dewhurst, when Cruz ran briefly for attorney general in 2009, Thiel's donations accounted for 19% of Cruz's total fundraising. Thiel, who made his fortune by founding PayPal (and was even a character in The Social Network), once hosted Cruz at an who's-who event in Georgia – and paid the $1,220.80 of Cruz's lodging costs. Thiel, who has maxed out on donations to Cruz this cycle ($5,000) clearly takes money from his pocket to support a candidate who eagerly jumps right back in it to do his bidding. Just like Cruz does with any high-powered conservative donor of any sexual orientation. For evidence, just look at any of Cruz's insanely corporatist positions.

Well, Cruz doesn't do all of Thiel's bidding. Thiel has reasonable positions on two issues: gay rights and marijuana that are in direct conflict with Cruz's unreasonable positions on all issues. Thiel has donated to GOProud and Americans for Equal Rights (how dare he support his own rights?), as well as pro-marijuana legalization groups. Cruz spokesman John Drogin said that  “Ted may not agree with every policy position of every supporter” but is grateful for their support for the cause of small government.

Especially when the government is small because it's only working for the richest people in the country. The Texas Tribune broke down fundraising numbers yesterday and found a stark if predictable gap in lobbyist donations between the candidates. Dewhurst has taken $189,869 from 85 registered Texas lobbyists, while a measly four Texas lobbyists have given a combined $11,750 to Cruz. One Texas lobbyist told the Texas Tribune, “I'm toast if I'm out there openly supporting Cruz.” Another Austin lobbyist explained, “It's logic. If [Dewhurst] wins, he's a U.S. senator you know and have dealt with,” the lobbyist said. “If he loses, you're going to deal with him as lieutenant governor. Ted doesn't hold a position to have to deal with him if he loses.”

So, the Cruz is the clear choice for voters looking for a no-string attached candidate, right? Wrong. The lobbyist donation gap between the candidates is not one of sum but of lobbyist location. Federal lobbyists and their families have donated $120,148 to Cruz. Dewhurst raised less than $25,000 from the same group.

Cue faux outrage from the campaigns about outside money. “Washington special interests are supporting Ted Cruz because they know he will be beholden to them and help carry out their agenda, which has driven our country further to the brink of disaster,” said Dewhurst spokesman Matt Hirsch. “Everyone who has business in front of the state Legislature – 100 percent of them – are with David Dewhurst, and they have to be,” Cruz said.

Democrats

On June 26, runoff Democrats Paul Sadler and Grady Yarbrough “faced off” in a Dallas “debate” about “who” should be the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

Notable moments from the “debate”:

  • Both candidates support marriage equality.
  • When given the opportunity to ask their opponent a question, Sadler declined to ask Yarbrough a question.
  • “The truth of the matter is, until you've wrestled with the problems of government and understand the consequences of the decisions you make, I don't think you're prepared to do it,” Sadler said.

About Author

Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman has been a BOR staff writer since 2011. A graduate of the University of Texas, Ben has worked on campaigns, in political consulting, and has written for other news outlets like Think Progress. Ben considers campaign finance reform the fundamental challenge of our time because it distorts almost every other issue in American politics.

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