All along, for more than two years, former Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz has held two strategies as the keys to being elected as the Republican Senate nominee from Texas. The first strategy would see him spending week after week on the road all across the Lone Star State. A relative unknown who had only held an obscure appointed office, and with no elective office victories on his resume but a strong story to tell, Cruz would boost his name ID across the state by visiting every inch of it. So for about two years, Cruz and his campaign manager John Drogin reached out to every Republican club in just about every town in Texas. From the panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley, from El Paso to the piney woods out east, Cruz would drive from one end of the huge state to the other, speaking to every club of every size that would hear him. He explained his message of smaller government, fighting for Texas values against Washington encroachment, and he told his family’s tale of exile from tyranny in Castro’s Cuba. Cruz was already out there telling this story when I moved back to Texas in 2009. The former solicitor general’s name ID inched up week upon week.
But Cruz always knew he would trail in the money race and in the influence race, and would probably face the very wealthy and extremely powerful Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. So he had a second strategy: Make it past the primary to the runoff and win there. He and Drogin banked on the Texas Republican primary delivering a divided result, and as long as Cruz held second place he would get into a runoff that he could win, thanks to the first strategy of taking his record and ideas to Tea Party and Republican groups all over the state.
Tonight, both strategies have been vindicated.
Ted Cruz’s runoff win all but assures that will be Texas’ next Senator. The Democrats have not won a statewide seat in Texas since 1994, and never fielded a credible candidate for Senate this time.
The May 29th primary had been pushed back by court squabbles over the state’s new electoral map, which gave the Cruz campaign time to raise more money and to continue raising the candidate’s name ID around the state. The day of the primary vote, Dewhurst finished comfortably ahead but below the 50% threshold that would have prevented a runoff. Cruz and Drogin knew they were within striking distance. The post-primary endorsement of Dewhurst by former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert did nothing to dissuade them; the campaign had argued all along that Leppert’s appeal would never get past Dallas, and his third place showing on May 29 revealed that to be true.