Look who's helping the Democrats keep control of the US Senate
Texans know Ted Cruz has a tendency to not play nice with others. There was a hope among establishment Republicans the Junior Senator form Texas was going to start acting as more of a team player in Washington and with the larger Republican Party when he accepted the role of vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). The NRSC is the official arm of Senate Republicans designed to elect Republicans to the US Senate.
Cruz served without controversy in his leadership position for several months until incumbent Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi was pushed into a runoff with TEA Party fueled challenger, State Sen. Chris McDaniel. Cruz, who is a product of a TEA Party uprising in Texas, had a natural inclination to make sure McDaniel was at least on equal footing with the long-time incumbent.
But after Cochran's victory with an assist from the NRSC, Ted Cruz is causing problems with his fellow Senators; problems which may, again, cost Republicans a chance at control of the US Senate in November. After the jump, learn what new problems Ted Cruz is causing for the Republican Party in the name “true conservatism” now.In 2010 and 2012, The national Republican Party was in position to win control of the US Senate. However, conservative activists closely aligned with the TEA Party ended up flooding the market with adds, and in several states nominated candidates for US Senate who were unelectable to the general electorate. The NRSC has evolved from a policy of having a preferred candidate in most primary races to one of supporting only incumbents in priamries.
The NRSC is largely funded by incumbent Republicans. When Republican Senators draw weak challengers, are left unopposed, or are in a cycle they are not up for election, they will often send money from their own campaign accounts to the NRSC to support their colleagues. Because the NRSC is funded largely by incumbents, it makes sense for the organization to have a strict policy of supporting incumbents, otherwise their primary fundraising base would dry up. Senators would not want to support their colleagues if they felt the favor wold not be repaid. The Democratic counterpart, The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), has a similar policy on re-electing incumbents.
So when Sen. Ted Cruz was confronted with a choice of upholding a policy built on trust and collaboration or adhering to his conservative ideals, Cruz has chosen to stick to ideology.
Cruz said the following after Chris McDaniel lost to Sen. Thad Cochran:
“It was unfortunate to see the D.C. political machine spending substantial money to urge 30,000 to 40,000 Democrats to vote in a Republican primary. And they did not do so in an effort to grow the party, to attract their support substantively on ideas. Rather the ads that were run made false racial charges and made no effort to secure those votes in the general election.
“When I signed on as vice-chair of the NRSC it was based upon an explicit commitment from leadership that the NRSC was going to stay out of primaries. Had they not made that commitment I would not have taken on that role.
“I participated in the NRSC early on as long as they honored that commitment, and when the decision was made for them to do otherwise I stopped participating because I think Washington insiders are notoriously poor at picking winners and losers in primaries. And indeed the Mississippi primary is Exhibit A for why the NRSC should stay out of primaries.”
The problem for Senate Republicans is Sen. Cruz is still the vice chairman of the NRSC and has made no plans to step down from his role. Sen. Cruz has made it clear he will not work to fundraise or campaign for the NRSC so long as there are active primaries. Even stranger, and worse for Republicans, Cruz has not made any announcement on if he plans to reverse his course of action once the primary season is complete. Considering Louisiana has a jungle election in November instead of a primary, Cruz may have given himself a loophole to stay inactive with the NRSC all the way through the November general election.
The Hill reports on how national Republicans are largely disgusted by Sen. Cruz:
“Many Republicans refused to publicly criticize Cruz. Former NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas), whom Cruz had refused to endorse in his primary, said he didn't want to weigh in on whether the senator should still be involved with the campaign committee. His fellow NRSC vice chairman, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), told The Hill that Cruz had been helpful at times.
But national Republicans privately say Cruz did almost nothing to help the NRSC even before they started getting involved in primaries.
“He's a VINO, he's a vice chairman in name only,” said one national Republican. “I'm not sure what the alternative is. Should we strip him of his vice chairmanship that he doesn't actually do anything with? The hope is judging by his own words he'll be helpful in the general election.”
But not everyone is so optimistic he'll come around.
“Senator Cruz has every right to express himself,” said GOP strategist Ron Bonjean, a onetime leadership aide to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).
“But does it make any sense to have a vice chairman of the NRSC dispute the certification of the Mississippi Senate election in favor of a sitting Republican incumbent?”
So long as Sen. Cruz holds the position of vice chair at the NRSC, he is actively harming the national Republican Party in their political mission to elect more Republicans and defeat Democrats this November.
Sen. Cruz is turning out to be an unlikely likely ally to Democrats and may inadvertently help elect a few liberals to Washington this November.
You can follow me on Twitter at @trowaman.