Republican Senate Primary Runoff Preview: David Dewhurst vs. Ted Cruz

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Long-shot former solicitor general Ted Cruz is poised to upset sitting Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the Republican Senate primary, and it might not be a bad thing. Shocking, sure, to the insiders and Perry power brokers who figured The Dew was a lock back in the fall, before redistricting litigation delayed the primaries and allowed Cruz the extra time to spread the word that he was the “real” conservative. The media buys have been omnipresent and ugly

Personally, I've debated internally for months over who I'd rather see win the primary, and likely take the seat in November. Dewhurst is less crazy, more grounded in what passes for factual evidence in the Republican Party of Texas these days. He'd be less embarrassing to our state in the US Senate. He's more of a “statesman,” though at times his campaign has behaved so very irresponsibly that he should be blushing every time that ad about driving a young man to suicide airs on the TV.

A Cruz victory, on the other hand, would make soon-to-be senior Senator John Cornyn irrelevant, since Cruz could steal the limelight from Big John's thinly-veiled flailing racism with his out-and-out 100% capital-C Crazy. A Cruz win would also keep Dewhurst in the pink dome presiding over the Senate, a welcome relief from the likely ascension of Senator Dan Patrick, who might gladly help pass a law requiring actual chastity belts given the make-up of the incoming Senate next year. Cruz would be only 1 of 100 in the US Senate and has absolutely zero governing experience. It's unlikely he could get much done. Both of them would have near-identical voting records. And Cruz might be easier to knock out in 6 years if demographics and revitalized TDP organizing actually come to fruition. And maybe, just maybe, a Cruz win would scare moderates and corporate Republicans into recognizing what the Tea Party truly has wrought here in Texas.

Perry has backed Dewhurst throughout, and could take a huge hit amongst Tea Party types if Cruz pulls it off. Even Sarah Palin has taken to mocking Perry for his backing of The Dew — and if a less-than-one-term Alaskan Governor feels safe poking fun at the longest-serving governor in Texas history, well… if nothing else that doesn't bode well for Perry 2016.

Dewhurst came in first on May 29th with 44% to Cruz's 34%, yet polling suggests Cruz will win owing to more enthusiastic supporters who would literally crawl over broken glass to vote for their guy. Dewhurst's core demographic may be too busy summering in the mountains to cast a ballot. Whatever happens, I hope @FakeTedCruz stays around for a long time. As he'd probably say when he's not making inside jokes about GOP operatives, “I'm really ready for the run-off to be over so I can pop a few cold ones, gang. Laughing out loud.”

Below are results from the 10 most populous counties in the May 29th primary:





Who will win? Tell us in the comments.  

About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She has previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Austin. In addition to serving as the president of Austin Young Democrats, she is also UCONN's #1 fan in Texas.

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