Ted Cruz’s Incompetence Will Cost The Texas GOP Dearly

Voters in early presidential primary states are not impressed by Beto O’Rourke jumping on tables and riding a skateboard on stage – stunts that Texans nearly rewarded with a prestigious U.S. Senate seat. CNN reports:

“But it's not just that O'Rourke has seen his numbers decline nationally -- it's that his polls look even worse in the early caucus and primary states. I could not find a single poll in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina conducted after Biden entered in which O'Rourke polled above 3%. These, of course, are the states that O'Rourke has been visiting over and over again throughout the last few months. It apparently hasn't done any good.”

Barely two months into his presidential run, facing falling poll numbers and fundraising drying up, Beto is planning an “reintroduction”. The Daily Beast reports:

“Recognizing his star power if fading, the 46-year-old plans to relaunch his campaign to try to recapture the buzz that surrounded his early days on the campaign trail, according to the AP, quoting an unnamed campaign adviser who says he will appear on “The View” on Tuesday as part of the reset attempt.”

The speed with which the Beto Bubble burst is an indictment of the Ted Cruz re-election campaign. Beto is an empty suit. He was always an empty suit and Cruz should have been able to dispense with him in short order. Instead, Cruz spent most of the campaign AWOL while Beto was covering the state of Texas with iconic campaign signs. When Ted finally showed up it was with the lame slogan “Tough As Texas” and no clear message as to why he deserved re-election. During a telephone conference call with Republican voters I attended, Cruz was asked to list his accomplishments while in office. He responded by mentioning that he passed legislation awarding the Purple Heart to the victims of the Fort Hood terrorist attack and obtained federal disaster aid for areas ravaged by hurricane Harvey. The Great Tea Party Hope of Texas had nothing to show as far as rolling back Obamacare, tackling illegal immigration or reining in the federal government.

To be fair, Ted Cruz was never a great campaigner - his skill set and personality are more suitable for a career in the judicial branch. He only finds himself in the Senate because he caught a lucky break in 2012. In Texas, if no candidate tops 50% in a primary, a runoff  between the two top getters takes place. On primary day, David Dewhurst received 45% of the vote while Cruz finished second with 34%. Coming third was former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert with 13% of the vote. Had Leppert not been in the race, the vast majority of his voters would have chosen moderate Dewhurst over conservative Cruz. Dewhurst could have easily picked up the additional 5%-6% needed to win the nomination outright. Briefly, no Leppert, no Ted Cruz in the Senate.

Cruz’s incompetent re-election campaign has already cost the Texas GOP dearly and will continue to do so. While the Senator managed to squeak through, Republicans down ballot suffered. Democrats were able to flip two U.S. House seats. Pete Sessions, the powerful Chairman of the House Committee on Rules, lost his seat along with longtime Congressmen GOP incumbent Rep. John Colberson. For the first time, Democrats were able to win Tarrant County, expanded their lead in large counties and eroded the Republican advantage in smaller counties. However, the Democrats greatest gains were in the state and local courts ‘turning them blue”.

As devastating as 2018 was for Texas Republicans, it could have been worse. The prevailing wisdom, up until election night, was that Texas was a reliably red state. It is quite likely that scores of Democrat leaning independents stayed home thinking that their vote would not affect the outcome. This is the greatest damage Cruz has done by allowing Beto to draw blood. Democrats now know that Texas is within their reach. In the future, Democrats will pour millions of dollars and Republicans will be forced to spend unprecedented amounts of money defending their turf. No longer Democrat leaning independents will abstain from the polls. Add to the mix the fast changing demographics and a clear picture of looming disaster for the TX GOP appears. Cruz campaigned on being as tough as Texas. Instead, he has made life very tough for Texas Republicans.