Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, R-Texas, and Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz have traded blows over the last few days of their Republican Senate runoff, but two new polls show Cruz with a solid lead over the presumed favorite in the race.
“PPP’s first poll of the Texas Senate runoff finds Ted Cruz with a surprising 49-44 lead and a much more enthusiastic cadre of supporters than former front runner David Dewhurst,” Public Policy Polling announced this afternoon. Earlier today, Wenzel Strategies released a survey showing Cruz with a 47-38 lead. Wenzel Strategies correctly predicted the results of the Indiana and Nebraska Republican primaries this year, but the Texas survey was commissioned by the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, which supports Cruz.
PPP described Cruz’s lead as “one of the most stark examples of the Tea Party movement propelling a candidate that we’ve seen to date.” Among the Tea Party issues that Cruz has emphasized recently is illegal immigration, as Cruz attacked Dewhurst for a 2007 speech in which the lieutenant governor expressed support for a guest worker program “for those here today illegally.”
“The speeches from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s state website were pulled down after reporters began calling about his controversial 2007 remarks on border and immigration issues,” according to the Texas Tribune. “The lieutenant governor’s office had asked more than a year ago that all of his speeches be removed from the internet and sent to archival storage . . . Once the 2007 speech began generating calls to the office, the lieutenant governor’s state-paid staff asked that the links to the speeches be disabled.”
Cruz’s campaign attacked Dewhurst — who has charged Cruz with supporting amnesty — for trying to “whitewash” his record on illegal immigration.
Meanwhile, Dewhurst is attacking Cruz as — a former solicitor general — as an establishment Republican. “Texans won’t be deceived by Ted’s disingenuous message of being a D.C. outsider willing to stand up for Texas principles,” Dewhurst adviser Mark Miner said in a statement. “Whether it’s having nearly $4 million spent on his behalf from D.C. special interest groups or spending the majority of his career in government, Ted has shown himself to be a puppet of the Washington insiders.”
Yesterday, Miner whacked Cruz for being “penalized the maximum fine” — $200 — by the Senate Ethics Committee for failing to file a personal financial disclosure form on time.”It’s ironic that Ted Cruz has been fined by the Senate Ethics Committee without even being elected to the Senate,” Miner added.
Cruz campaign strategist John Drogin said “it was an administrative oversight” that caused the failure to file the form. “We plan to send in that late fee, absolutely. If we are required to submit any other fees or penalties, we will do so right away, absolutely,” Drogin told the Texas Tribune, which noted that Cruz overnight mailed the form to Washington on Monday.
So, how will this all play out? “Runoff elections are notoriously difficult to poll so Dewhurst shouldn’t be written off,” PPP cautioned today. “But the fact that Cruz is ahead overall and up by even more with the folks most likely to vote is a pretty bad sign for his prospects.”