Political Animal


August 01, 2012 8:59 AM Cruz Romps

By Ed Kilgore

Though the MSM called this race a “tossup,” no one really watching the Texas Republican Senate contest was surprised when former state solicitor general Ted Cruz hammered Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst by a 57/43 margin in a runoff yesterday. The smell of death has emanated from Dewhurst’s campaign ever since he was knocked into a runoff in May. The long runoff campaign (attributable to confusion over judicial review of Texas redistricting plans) made Dewhurst a sitting duck for the vast array of national conservative groups backing Cruz.

As I tried to explain in a TNR piece published last night, what makes the results so interesting is that the Texas race became a huge objective for movement conservatives nationwide even though Dewhurst really couldn’t be accused of ideological heresy. Much of it had to do with the desire to find another right-wing Hispanic prospect as a amulet against the demographic trends afflicting the GOP.

But the timing couldn’t be much worse in terms of the impact on Republicans in Washington. The closest thing to an actual offense against conservative orthodoxy committed by Dewhurst was his habit of talking to Democrats in the state legislature. The Cruz campaign pretty much demanded one-party government forever and ever. The Texas results will be used by the groups backing Cruz as a perpetual warning to GOP elected officials against any sort of compromise with godless liberals.

Meanwhile, the Cruz win was another low point in what’s turning out to be a really, really crappy year for Rick Perry and his political team of supposed geniuses. I’m fighting the shadenfreude temptation, but not very hard.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • T2 on August 01, 2012 9:16 AM:

    at the end of the day, Texas is simply replacing a certain Republican vote in the Senate with another one. A NO vote against anything Obama does is the same obstruction whether cast by Hutchinson or Cruz. For Rick Perry, however, it is an unheard of slap in the face from the section of the electorate that he basically created himself. Dog eating dog. When you look at it, six/eight months ago Perry looked like a shoo-in for the GOP presidential nomination if he went for it. Now, he'll almost surely be challenged by a TeaBag sponsored candidate if he chooses to run for another Gov term, and if last night is a gauge, he'll lose. Which ain't a bad thing, necessarily.

  • DAY on August 01, 2012 9:23 AM:

    "Persuading the people to vote against their own best interests has been the awesome genius of the American political elite from the beginning." -Gore Vidal

  • AJ Eynon on August 01, 2012 9:27 AM:

    Texas conservatives have driven off the ideological cliff, aided by Texas liberals who voted in the republican primary. (COUGH) Not that I have any personal knowledge of such things happening.

  • Daryl McCullough on August 01, 2012 9:29 AM:

    In other election news, a personal friend of mine who I have known since I was a child has won election in Georgia as a state senator. Actually, he just won the Republican nomination, but in his district, these days, that practically means he's the next state senator for that district.

    In a sense, I'm proud to know a successful politician, but his two big campaign promises were: (1) passing a "life begins at conception" bill and (2) blocking the implementation of Obamacare in Georgia (or at least whatever portions can be blocked at the state level).

    If I rejected friends because of their wacko politics, I would have no Georgia friends, anymore.

  • Peter C on August 01, 2012 9:44 AM:

    Yes, the Republican establishment was soundly beaten by the radical fringe. But, that's what being a Republicans is these days: it means thinking that Sarah Palin is qualified to run our country.

    Now we need a smart Senate campaign to highlight the differences. We need clear messages about who we are and why we're a better alternative. Sadly, the Texas Democratic Party is very weak. I don't know what Democrats did in Texas to be so despised (I've only lived here a year and a half), but there's a lot of work to be done.

  • stormskies on August 01, 2012 9:58 AM:

    The MSM considered this race a toss-up. Ok. That should be a real clear warning as to the actual reality of the race between Obama and Romney as well because of the MSM desperately trying to pretend it's a 'toss-up'.

  • boatboy_srq on August 01, 2012 10:13 AM:

    This stinks of "conservatism cannot fail - it can only be failed" behavior. If Cruz wins we have another "God, guns and (zy)gotes" vote in the Senate (which is hardly a change, but more McConnells won't make legislating any easier); if (please, PLEASE FSM) he loses, then we'll have more whinging from Kochistan, and more pressure on the GOTea to move further right. I think the cliff has actually become visible - and still the lemmings run toward it.

    @Daryl McCullough: has it occurred to you that, if your "friends" don't share your values to the point that you can't persuade them that your own values matter, then maybe they aren't really your friends in the first place? There's plenty of otherwise-likeable people out there who want more than a few of us to either die or emigrate so they can live in their perfect US of A: however pleasant their company may otherwise be, I wouldn't refer to them as "friends" - especially when it comes time to cast votes that impact my standing as a citizen.

  • grandpa john on August 01, 2012 10:25 AM:

    lf I rejected friends because of their wacko politics, I would have no Georgia friends, anymore.
    Living across the river in SC , I find myself in the same situation, I try to avoid political discussions. My Sunday school class members do know where I stand however as a couple of times the anti-Obama talk got so far off the deep end that I simply had to speak up, but normally keep my mouth shut. What I do find amusing is that some of the most rabid wingers are also very active in out local food bank and food outreach, we sponsor a monthly Grace on Wheels meal delivery service and as a church are very active in doing for poor and needy, yet most members are die hard repubs who support the rep politicans who would crap all over the poor and needy, completely ignoring the commands of Jesus that we as a church try to follow, So far I have refrained from pointing this out to my classmates

  • MuddyLee on August 01, 2012 10:38 AM:

    Rick Perry loses face, Jim DeMint gains. The USA certainly didn't win anything. Perry may have to run on secession next time to be "right" enough? If so, I say let Texas secede (with Austin becoming a sort of Berlin, remaining American) and let all the South Carolina conservatives (who are at least as crazy as the ones in Texas) move into the new Republic of Texas. They can run their health care system according to the non-socialist principles of the fiction of Ayn Rand and the Left Behind series, guard their own borders, fight their own wildfires, take care of their own hurricane damage, stop paying federal taxes - if they're willing to give up all federal benefits (wonder if they think social security and medicare and defense contracts are "welfare"?).

  • ckelly on August 01, 2012 10:40 AM:

    Mr. Lunatic Goes to Washington.

  • T2 on August 01, 2012 10:51 AM:

    Perry is almost guaranteed to be primaried now, probably from his own Atty. General who has taken a hard turn into TeaBagville recently. But the further wacked out the TX GOP gets, the closer it will be to losing. The big cities..Houston, DFW, San Antonio and Austin are much, much bluer than the rural part of the state and the rabidly racist East Texas swamplands. A good, solid Dem candidate that can appeal to Hispanics will be positioned to make a run at a hard-core TeaBagger, especially if what passes for moderate Republicans are smarting from primary defeat and stay home.

  • c u n d gulag on August 01, 2012 11:01 AM:

    And another turd's about to be sh*t into the Senate punchbowl - where's the turd's are starting to overwhelm the punch.

    And we wonder why we can't have nice things?

  • JR on August 01, 2012 1:17 PM:

    It was a bad day for Texas incumbents, period. My sister, a centrist Dem who didn't vote in the primary (why bother?), crossed party lines in the runoff, just to cast a vote for Dewhurst and State Senator Wentworth. Wentworth had held his seat for two decades, but lost in a landslide to the teabagger candidate, Donna Campbell. Campbell, whose family was moved to New Braufels, specifically to run for this seat, won with a whomping 66% of the vote. All part of the teabagger plan to rule Texas.

  • David Carlton on August 01, 2012 1:25 PM:

    This sounds a lot like the chaos that's overtaking Tennessee, where local Republicans are going after their own governor for not being "partisan" enough in his hiring and for placing a young Muslim woman (who grew up in rural Tennessee and is a former Vanderbilt student-body president) in the Department of Economic Development. Meanwhile, the hottest primary battle (the election is tomorrow) pits thoroughly right-wing Rep. Diane Black against an opponent who's violently attacking her for (a) being insufficiently concerned with the Muslim threat and (b) voting to keep the government running instead of holding it hostage to defunding Obamacare. The Republican establishment is going bananas; operatives who previously had no problems trying to exploit fears of Muslims are appalled when the same tactics are used against a nice upper-middle-class Vandy graduate working in a Republican administration. Evidently they think that mobs come with on/off switches.

  • Mark on August 01, 2012 3:19 PM:

    I can't think of any other way to say this:
    When ever you visit a state or national park there are always signs that say this: "Please do not feed the wildlife"

    This is the sign Republican Party ignored.

    Now they can't stop the animals from coming.

  • Jose Hipants on August 01, 2012 4:09 PM:

    @Peter C - "I don't know what Democrats did in Texas to be so despised"
    I think it was Lyndon Johnson passing the Civil Rights Act. Down south, they can hold a grudge for a long time.

  • c00p on August 01, 2012 11:28 PM:

    @Peter C: Jose is right--and of course it's not just LBJ. The Democrats' belief in and support for racial equality is (secret) anathema in most of the South, as are the belief in religious equity, support for public education, progressive taxation, etc. My family has very deep roots in Texas, and there are many wonderful people here, but the political and economic attitudes of most Anglo Texans are identical to those of the 17th century Puritans.