In a move that could foreshadow troubles ahead for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's bid to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the U.S. Senate, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is endorsing former Solicitor General Ted Cruz. Paul is the son of longtime Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination.
Analysts have long considered Dewhurst the odds-on favorite to win the Senate seat whenever Hutchison decided to step down. Dewhurst waited until after the regular and special legislative sessions were over before formally announcing, giving Cruz time to gain momentum in fund-raising and winning endorsements. Among the other Republicans in the race are former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones.
Dewhurst has been one of the Republicans' top vote-getters in Texas, but Tea Party supporters and some other staunch conservatives were livid with the lieutenant governor for his handling of the hotly contested TSA anti-groping bill during the legislative sessions. The bill died, and Tea Party backers hold him largely responsible for its demise. They promised to remember, and judging from callers to North Texas talk radio stations today, they haven't forgotten yet. Tea Party supporters also have said they hold Gov. Rick Perry and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus responsible for the death of the TSA bill.
Rand Paul's endorsement statement for Cruz doesn't mention the TSA brouhaha, but he does raise pointed questions about Dewhurst's willingness to compromise with Democrats. He doesn't mention Dewhurst by name, but there's no mistaking who he's talking about when he says, "Right now, an establishment Republican with enormous personal wealth is running for Senate against Ted. I'm afraid he'd join the go-along, get-along Senate club, and we don't need more of that in Washington."
Paul also said: "Having grown up in Texas, I know Texans don't want a career politician in the Senate who will compromise with Democrats to keep growing our out-of-control federal spending and debt."
-- John Gravois