A friend from Texas comments on my blogpost about the Cruz-Dewhurst primary:
I largely agree with your post on the Texas senate race, but some thoughts from on the ground:
- People never really liked Dewhurst. He's been in Austin for a good, long time, and he's not shown himself to be an effective politician. To wit, Texas is a "weak governor" state, with most of the power going to the lieutenant governor. However, Gov. "Oops!" Perry has consistently gotten whatever he wants, while Dewhurst has been one of the more forgettable lieutenant governor's in decades. Plus, Dewhurst's personality isn't especially endearing. He's an aloof rich guy with a lot of rich friends, all with a "Dallas-slick" appearance.
- Dewhurst has run a spectacularly dirty campaign. He's run ads about how Cruz has represented criminals. Criminals! A lawyer?! And he's tried to peg Cruz with outsourcing jobs to China. No one has been impressed, and most newspapers have agreed with Cruz that Dewhurst has outright lied over and over. I've seen my share of GOP primaries, and I was biased in favor of Dewhurst, but he's behaved shamefully. Bottom line: Dewhurst deserved to lose.
- Runoffs usually don't have high turn-outs, and because Texas is such a red state, the GOP could afford to put virtually any guy they want into the general election. So, more moderate Texas Republicans aren't too motivated to go vote in another primary, especially after Dewhurst ran a lot of dirty ads. (I'm not even voting.)
- Texas reelected a lot of standard-issue GOP congressmen who faced big Tea-Party primaries, with (I think) only one or two scalps being lost. I went to some super-angry town halls in North Texas and saw the Glenn Beck crowd super pissed, but it didn't matter much come election day.
Also, I'm ambivalent about how much all this will really matter. I'm a Lindsey Graham guy through-and-through, but having a few Tea Party boys running around up there isn't the end of the world. And Ted Cruz is at least a bright guy with good experience—he did a good job as Texas' Solicitor General, which requires the ability to understand and make complex arguments. I'm not certain how bright DeMint is. From watching the debates, Cruz has a better chance of becoming another Rubio than Baby DeMint.