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Texas Senate race highlights Republicans' internal struggle


The following ran in the Jan. 21, 2012, edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Political Scientist Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

January 26, 2012

By Anna M. Tinsley

As Republican candidates vie for the chance to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the U.S. Senate, an internal struggle for control of the GOP is rising to the surface -- pitting Tea Party members against the party establishment.

In a race that's generating national attention, supporters are lining up behind GOP candidates including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former ESPN football analyst Craig James.

"There is a 'battle' of sorts within the Republican Party between the more establishment Republicans and the Tea Party constituents," said Allan Saxe, an associate professor of government at the University of Texas at Arlington. "Rightly or not, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is viewed as the establishment candidate -- sort of the state version of Mitt Romney. Ted Cruz is the Newt Gingrich in the Senate race while Tom Leppert and Craig James are both Rick Santorum."

The intraparty battle playing out in Texas is also being fought nationwide....

"The Tea Party influence is on the wane and will continue on that path, to be less of a force in the 2012 elections than in 2010," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "This might be a war, but the Tea Party doesn't have a large, cohesive army in the field."

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