One of the top Tea Party primaries in the country is taking place in Texas. It’s a battle between billionaire Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, and Ted Cruz, the former Solicitor General of Texas and clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist. The moderate Dewhurst is better known, and he can write a check to his campaign for whatever money he needs. Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert is also running, but has been less of a factor up to this point. Former football player Craig James is a recent entry to the race, but his late start leaves him with a lot of ground to make up on the two front runners.
Cruz is lesser known than Dewhurst, but is quickly becoming a conservative rock star in the mold of Marco Rubio in Florida. Cruz has garnered the support of the Club for Growth, Tea Party Express, and Jim DeMint. Initial polls showed Dewhurst with a wide lead, but recent polls that have come out show the race tightening. Now here’s where it gets weird: Because of Texas’s exotic primary system, if no candidate reaches 50 percent in the primary, then the top two candidates move to a runoff two weeks later.
Cruz’s theory of the race is simple: Keep Dewhurst under 50 percent, get into a runoff, and then beat him head to head as the more conservative candidate in a GOP primary. Dewhurst doesn’t want a runoff. He realizes that the longer this race goes, the more time Cruz has to build momentum.
On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Solicitor General Ted Cruz have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. On the Democratic side, “none of the above” is the clear leader.
When asked “How would you vote in a Republican U.S. Senate primary held today?”, 38 percent of likely Republican primary voters said they would vote for Dewhurst, while Cruz followed with 27 percent. Craig James and Tom Leppert secured 7 percent each.
There’s one last wrinkle: Due to a fight that Texas is having with the Justice Department, the Texas primary keeps getting moved back. Originally slated for March, the primary now looks like it might happen in May. This is good news for Cruz, as it gives him more time to build name recognition among the conservative base. Stay tuned.