The PJ Tatler

#404Gate: Stunning Dewhurst Revelation Rocks the Texas Senate Race (Update: Speeches Removed 'Recently')

Texas Republicans will select the state’s next senator on July 31, in a runoff between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former state solicitor general Ted Cruz. Dewhurst, who has been in power for more than a decade, has of late blasted President Obama’s amnesty-lite executive order and declared that he has always opposed amnesty for illegal aliens.

It turns out, though, that his official website once offered proof of his inconsistency.

In a 2007 speech the he delivered in heavily Latino south Texas, Dewhurst said the following: “I support secure borders North and South and I support a guest worker program for those here illegally. Labor and skilled workers are critical to our Texas economy. Our federal government needs to get its act together.”

No one would quibble with most of that but there’s a highly problematic clause in the first sentence. Notice the lack of any qualifiers for his guest worker program. Nothing for age or, well, anything. As stated, Dewhurst’s policy would be far broader than the one President Obama imposed by fiat this year. This year he is denying that he ever supported such a program.

As the Texas lieutenant governor, Dewhurst has an official website that includes his official speeches. It no longer includes the 2007 speech. The Cruz campaign, however, has preserved it in Internet amber. Down the memory hole, but back in the headlines.

According to a statement that has been making the rounds, “[T]he lieutenant governor’s office requested that all of his speeches be deleted over a year ago.” That’s when he started running for the Senate seat. The deletion has raised questions of whether or not the lieutenant governor is using taxpayer-funded staff to assist his Senate campaign in any way.

However that works out, and it’s unlikely to work out in any legal way before the runoff vote, the voters who will determine the victor in the July 31 runoff are a subset of the overall Texas Republican Party base. Runoff voters tend to be the most activist-minded and the most informed. From the beginning, the Cruz campaign has banked on getting to the runoff and then bringing this strong grassroots base back out to put him over the top.

The revelation that Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has flip flopped on amnesty may just prove to be the issue that propels Ted Cruz into the US Senate.

Update: And the plot thickens.

The speeches from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s state website were pulled down after reporters began calling about his controversial 2007 remarks on border and immigration issues, an aide said.

Spokeswoman Lauren Thurston could not give an exact date for the removal. But she said it happened recently, after reporters began calling the office about a speech that Dewhurst gave in Laredo in February 2007. The Houston Chronicle posted a blog item and a link to the speech on June 27.

Update: Ted Cruz failed to file his personal financial disclosure on time, but has filed it now and it differs very little from last year’s financial disclosure. The campaign calls it an “administrative oversight.”