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2012 Archives

Texas Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz wins Republican run-off election

SMU experts look at how it happened and what it means


SMU Political Science Professors Cal Jillson and Matthew Wilson provided expertise to various media outlets — including The Christian Science Monitor, Time magazine, The Houston Chronicle and Fox 4 News — about the July 31 victory of Texas Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz in the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate nomination.

Prof. Matthew Wilson on Fox 4 News

August 1, 2012

From The Christian Science Monitor

By Linda Feldmann
Staff Writer

Ted Cruz was tea party before there was a tea party.

And in toppling Texas’s lieutenant governor for the state’s Republican nomination for US Senate Tuesday, Mr. Cruz certainly had the full force of the tea party movement supporting him with cash, social media, and people power. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum campaigned for him.

But whether Cruz, the prohibitive favorite to win election in November, fully positions himself as a “tea party senator” in Washington remains an open question. Because Cruz has the potential to be more than “just” a tea party senator. . .

“He’s an ideologue, in the Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Pat Toomey camp,” says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, referring to three of the Senate’s most conservative members. “If our politics continues to be as partisan and ideological as it is, he will be a spokesman for the principled-conservative, no-compromise wing of the Republican Party.”

Mr. Jillson sees Cruz as filling the role that Phil Gramm played when the Republican represented Texas in the Senate from 1985 to 2002 and was a national conservative spokesman. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the retiring Republican senator whom Cruz would replace, has focused more on serving the needs of Texas.

Read the full story.

From Time magazine

By Hilary Hylton

Thirty years ago, it was said Texas Republicans were so few that they met in a phone booth. These days, a Roman amphitheater might be a more suitable venue.

The colossal $45 million GOP U.S. Senate primary battle that culminated with a runoff Tuesday night between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Tea Party darling Ted Cruz turned Austin upside down. With much of the establishment lining up behind Dewhurst, Cruz won the runoff by 13 points, trouncing the powerful lieutenant governor who had the backing of Gov. Rick Perry and a large number of elected state Republicans. . .

“Texas Republicans dominate their state as thoroughly and completely as any party in the nation,” Cal Jillson, political scientist at Southern Methodist University says. “Republicans hold all 29 state wide elective offices and two-to-one majorities over the Democrats in the congressional delegation and both houses of the state legislature.”

But Jillson adds there is something “surreal” about the Republican dominance. “The Republicans are essentially an Anglo party in a state in which the Anglo share of the population is shrinking and in which minorities already constitute a majority.”

Read the full story.

From The Houston Chronicle

By Patricia Kilday Hart

It was a simple and proven campaign strategy: David Dewhurst would channel Rick Perry by spewing anti-Washington rhetoric, then dispatch his opponent as deftly as Perry brushed aside Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2010.
But in a political sleight of hand, Ted Cruz stole Perry's mantle as the voice of the Texas tea party voter, and on Tuesday he claimed for his own the title of Most Conservative. In this election, nothing else - certainly no issues - mattered.
Mugged of his identity as a staunch and starched Republican, Dewhurst came to represent everything Republican primary voters this year despise: Government Itself. . .

Observed Southern Methodist University professor Cal Jillson: "If there is a dominant trait among politicians, it's cowardice." Translation: Given Cruz's triumph over Dewhurst, no Texas Republican will dare flirt with a government-centered solution to a problem anytime in the near future. . .

Does the ideologically bound Cruz really represent the Texas Republican Party? Or did all the clear-thinking Republicans flee to Colorado for this scorcher of a July?
Asked the question, Jillson recalled a story about the late Illinois Sen. Adlai Stevenson. A supporter once assured him that "every sensible person I know is voting for you." To which Stevenson thoughtfully replied, "Yes, but we need a majority."

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