Skip to comments.How Ted Cruz Did It
Posted on 08/03/2012 10:01:13 AM PDT by Kaslin
Tea party insurgent Ted Cruzs thrilling and improbable victory over Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in Texass GOP Senate primary provides a model for future long-shot candidates to follow, though repeating what Cruz did will be difficult.
A long line of dominoes had to fall, in the precise order that they did, for Cruz to overcome an opponent who had every advantage a political candidate can have.
Dewhurst had unlimited financing (he spent at least $19.9 million of his own money), universal name recognition, unanimous support from the Austin political establishment and massive political power as the leader of the Texas Senate.
Ted Cruz had courage, wisdom and a hunch.
When Cruzs eventual campaign manager told me in early 2011 that the former Texas solicitor general would likely run for retiring U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchisons Senate seat, I scoffed at the idea. The race was beyond his reach, he couldnt raise enough money, he had never been on the ballot before, other likely candidates possessed statewide name recognition and Cruzs Hispanic surname would hurt him in a Republican primary.
But Cruz and his team were undeterred by the naysayers. They went to work.
In Texas, if a primary candidate wins less than 50 percent of the vote, the top two primary candidates advance to a runoff. Cruzs biggest insight was that he could win a runoff against Dewhurst; the hard part would be making it to the runoff.
Cruz set out to build the largest grassroots army in Texas history, believing that passionate supporters would act as force multipliers.
But first he needed help.
In politics, the shape of the field determines the race. Cruz needed to become the consensus conservative candidate in order to make it a one-on-one race against Dewhurst, so he could nationalize the campaign. When it began, four candidates sought the conservative mantle: Cruz, Railroad Commissioners Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones and former Secretary of State Roger Williams. Cruz came out ahead by outworking and outperforming his competition.
Early on, Cruz won the support of the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks (and later the Tea Party Express), whose outside efforts would prove critical later. He unexpectedly raised significant money (about $1 million every three months), a task made more difficult by the large, unsettled field.
Conservatives gradually lined up behind Cruz, giving him momentum and forcing the other conservative candidates to drop out. By the filing deadline, Cruz was the only tea party candidate in the race.
Traditionally, Texas has March primaries. But wrangling and a court battle over the states redistricting map forced election officials to move the primary to late May, with a runoff in the dog days of summer in late July, ultimately reducing turnout and giving Cruz more time to raise money and build momentum.
And Cruzs momentum kept building. National Review put him on its cover, just as it had put Marco Rubio on its cover two years before. Syndicated columnist George Will wrote a glowing column in which he described Cruz as a candidate who was as good as it gets.
The five strongest conservatives in the U.S. Senate Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Pat Toomey and Tom Coburn all endorsed him. Talk radio followed, with Mark Levin, Glenn Beck and eventually Sean Hannity endorsing Cruz.
This momentum forced two other potential candidates Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and State Senator Dan Patrick not to run, keeping Cruz as the only movement conservative in the field.
But there may have never been a runoff between Cruz and Dewhurst were it not for two crucial late developments. Ten days before the runoff, Ron Paul endorsed Cruz, which brought Pauls supporters into the fold. Then former Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) endorsed him, bringing in a wave of invaluable earned media, small donor contributions and momentum. Those endorsements helped Cruz get enough votes in the May 29 primary to force a runoff. At that point, the races ultimate result was inevitable.
Two months later, on runoff election night, Cruzs rabid volunteer base, outside support and huge momentum carried him to a crushing 13-point win.
Cruz is a once-in-a-generation candidate who ran a nearly flawless campaign in a favorable political environment. But he never should have been able to win. Indeed, as he has said to his supporters, I alone could not win this race. But with your help, we could not lose.
I think the author overlooked the fact that Dewhurst sucks.
Boils down to, against all odds, conservatives did not choose the circular firing squad approach this time. As momentum built toward Cruz, the others withdrew.
Marvelous what can be accomplished when conservatives don’t bicker and bitch to the bitter end.
Looking at the current batch of senators, I don't see sucking as a disqualifier.
I much prefer "enthusiastic" to "rabid."
If he'd stuck with his positive "this is what I'll do" ads, I think Dewhurst would have won. Sure, he was merely playing the part of a real conservative in those ads, but they were effective. His attack ads were lame-ass and unconvincing and only helped Cruz.
We need to establish a few Cruz-like for the next election in 2 yrs. Use this model & get active.
“though repeating what Cruz did will be difficult”.
Like so many other out of touch pundits, this author underestimates the power of determined, fed up Tea Party activists.
I’m happy Cruz got elected. I’m unhappy that SENATOR!! I SAY! I SAY! SENATOR! DID YOU HEAR THAT? I’M A TEXAS STATE SENATOR!!! Dan Patrick has turned in to such a political crackhead who has developed an ego so big he can’t contain himself. His outrageous behavior during his support of Dewhurst was sickening. Patrick has turned in to what he railed against for so many years. What a jerk he has become.
If your going to play in Texas, you better have a fiddle in the band.
Remember that song?
Well, if your going to win in Texas, you better flank your opponent to the RIGHT.
It’s that simple.
(he spent at least $19.9 million of his own money)????
For a $174,000 a year job!?!?!?
Cruz was helped immensely by an inept Dewhurst campaign that blew all it's cash on negative ads.
As any Poli-Sci major will tell you, negative ads are supposed to depress turnout. But used in the massive quantities Dewhurst did it had the opposite effect, people turned out in droves to vote against him.
Now that Poli-Sci major that came up with this scheme for Dewhurst can go back to serving latte at Starbucks.
I understand your viewpoint, but I believe Lt. Gov. Dewhurst's behavior in the campaign made a huge difference to many Texas Republicans and gave the win to Ted Cruz.
I believe tens of thousands of Republican primary voters were surprised by the sleazy, dishonest campaign ads that Dewhurst and his PAC supporters approved and he came to be seen as a person without honor. I know it was shocking to our family. I have my doubts now that Dewhurst is worthy of holding public office, let alone one of the most influential positions in Texas state government.
Well so does Obumbo,so explain that,didn’t stop him,The Marxist is still loved by the morons in this country
Like so many other out of touch pundits, this author underestimates the power of determined, fed up Tea Party activists.
Two unpopular wars and a liberal slanted media who sold the public on the idea that the failing economy was the fault of the Republicans AND the idea that a well-spoken and charismatic young senator from Illinois would or could change things. That explains Obama. But you already knew that.
IMHO Pols like Dewhurst and Perry were allowed to play crony capitalist, big spending, pro amnesty behind the scenes pols because they passed a lot of the agenda of the evangelical, pro-life activists. I know many of them and they all backed Dewhurst. The reasons they would expouse is his pro life legislation and other social legislation.
Well I think all this is fine and good and I am for the pro life legislation, but many Texans are tired of Austin neglecting fiscal responsibility and most of the conservative legislation being held up by the leadership. I want all three legs of the conservative agenda, and I am not going to be bought off with just one.
lol! No, but Texas voters were provided a far better alternative in Ted Cruz.
TP keep talking about establishment, yet they seem to dance around who is bankrolling and supporting establishment. Hint is in the Dem primary of 2008. Clinton was on the way to be chosen before she was upended by Obama. WTF happen. Simple, Clinton wanted to go after the banks on Wall Street for the financial implosion of 2008. Bankers know they are doom if that happens so they made a bargain with the radical Dems wing and vice versa. Bankers will support the radical left, accept any socialist program as long as they do not start the process of prosecuting the bankers. In essence the bankers want the radical Dems to run out the legal clock because the statue of limitations for many of the charges is 5 years. Radical Dems always had problems with getting funding compared to liberal Dems. 2008 was different. MSM, Wall Street money and foreign money came pouring into Obama’s coffer. The thuggish tactics and pressures on the Special Delegates was well coordinated and the rest is history. Obama with his unknown background, questionable past documentation of his whereabouts and birth is the perfect Wall Street candidate just in case the anti business nature of the radicals decide to double cross on the deal. Get rid of the Wall Street bankers and their money exchangers, and this country will be better off in both parties, and for the people on Main Street. The Tea Party is the vanguard.
Then former Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) endorsed him, bringing in a wave of invaluable earned media, small donor contributions and momentum.I know I'm beating a dead horse, but she could have done the same for Hayworth if she had so chosen.
Right you are. But, for reasons that have been enumerated countless times in this forum, she chose to endorse McShame instead.
Thanks for reminding me
I know. I did say it was a dead horse and I apologize for beating it.
No apologies necessary Sam. Not from you, anyway. :-)
Dan Patrick lied when he said he was a conservative.
In my neck of Texas, the biggest of several things I hear is:
“Dewhurst was connected with trying to ram the Trans Texas Corridor thing through, and Ted Cruz wasn't/”
Some political moves you can't live down.
Which is as it should be.
In March I went to a small cattle sale (about 100 people) near Cent4er, Texas, and Cruz showed up and gave a short, patriotic speech. I think Cruz just out worked and outsmarted Dewhurst.
In March I went to a small cattle sale (about 100 people) near Center, Texas, and Cruz showed up and gave a short, patriotic speech. I think Cruz just out worked and outsmarted Dewhurst.
Wot??? Um, Sarah's endorsement came BEFORE ten days prior to the run off...she endorsed Cruz on/around May 10, 2012.
...bringing in small donor contributions? Wot?? At least give credit where credit is due.
Her endorsement helped bring in SIGNIFICANT donations, per Cruz' own campaign manager...
"Campaign manager John Drogin confirmed by email to Yahoo News that Palin's endorsement "has added HUGE buzz to our campaign. "Phones are ringing, online contributions are pouring in, and supporters are more excited than ever on our social networks," Drogin wrote, adding that he's seen a "flood" of donations but has yet to tally them.
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No apology necessary. The horse is still dead, and thus is not bothered, and you feel a little better... /grin
Chick-fil-A took away coverage of the Cruz victory. That is too bad since his victory is a rallying cry for constitutional conservatives.
I don’t know that Dewhurst will be re-elected. He pulled some seriously ugly stuff. I think it damaged is reputation all by himself.
Texas’ #1 and #2 both got their butts handed to them this year in the electoral process. Perry in the GOP Presidential Primary and Dewhurst in the GOP Senatoral runoff. Now with some luck maybe that will be a sign of things to come in a couple of years either by defeat at the polls or them choosing to not run for re-election.
DewCrist shot himself in the foot by being a horrible candidate and his nasty attack ads didn’t help.
But Cruz won because of massive Tea Party support from core Texas activists who worked tirelessly for him. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s a great guy..
I never heard an ad on the radio that gave a position on any topic that said “vote for me.”
He just ran some version of the “Cruz is a trial lawyer for the Chinese govt stealing jobs from America” ad over and over.
No, he's been that was for a while. Patrick's ego has been oversized since he first walked into the Senate chamber. It's just that now he's seen as turning on the people who put him there in the first place.
One of the biggest myths about negative ads is that they depress turnout. Studies of the date suggest negative ads do not depress turnout. There's also no evidence that negative ads in large quantities lead voters to vote against the person releasing the ads.
data not date.
Thought I had caught everything when I previewed.
You may have forgotten, but Dewhurst running as a “George Bush Republican” beat Patterson in the 1998 primary for land commissioner. Patterson won the seat in 2002, when Dewhurst was elected lt. governor over John Sharp.
Grassroots activism. Staring early.
Eat conservative votes and organization, GOP-E.
Once they forced the runoff and conservatives fully came behind Cruz it was his to lose. Not unbelievable at all.