Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Perry, Cruz, and the Future of Republicans in Texas

Introducing Ted Cruz at the American Legislative Exchange Council's December 2010 States and Nation Policy Summit, Texas governor Rick Perry referred to the youngest solicitor general in the history of the state of Texas as "the future of the Republican party."  However, in the race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, Governor Perry has decided to endorse a reversion to the past, throwing his support to establishment moderate Lieutenant Governor David Dewherst.

Given Governor Perry's general willingness to align himself with tea party and evangelical conservatives, with whom Mr. Cruz is popular, his choice seems odd, though it makes sense on a pragmatic level.  If Mr. Dewherst fails in his quest for the U.S. Senate seat, he retains his role as Lt. Governor, which includes the ability to drive policy in the Texas state senate.  Had Mr. Perry endorsed Ted Cruz, and if Mr. Cruz was elected, Mr. Dewherst's remaining in Texas likely would not be helpful either to the Governor's policy initiatives nor to his seeming interest in pursuing another term in the governor's seat.

In yesterday's primary, Mr. Dewherst won a plurality of votes and is the favorite to win the nomination, but he did not garner enough votes to avoid a runoff with Mr. Cruz.  Governor Perry's craven interests aside, it will be a shame if a candidate who has the potential to excel on a national stage suffers defeat in this race.  Regardless of the outcome in 2010, Mr. Cruz will have a strong future in Texas and American politics.  Mr. Dewherst will never be anything more than a placeholder.

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