The latest good news for Ted Cruz’s Senate campaign is a George Will column raving about him. It follows endorsements from FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth, and many other conservatives. (I should note up front that Ted is an old friend from college.)
For months, conservatives have thought that the race to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R., Tex.) could become 2012′s version of the Crist-vs.-Rubio contest in the 2010 Florida Senate race, with Cruz in the Rubio spot and lieutenant governor David Dewhurst playing the role of Crist. It would pit an establishment squish against a dynamic conservative Cuban-American.
But the race has not quite taken that form. For one thing, until recently there was some crowding on the right. But Cruz’s strong fundraising, among other things, has thinned the field: His nearest conservative challenger, Michael Williams, now appears set to run for the U.S. House instead. State senator/radio host/radio-station owner Dan Patrick may jump in, but it’s not clear he can raise the funds to be competitive.
As for Dewhurst, his differences with Crist cut both ways. Operating within Texas’s conservative politics, he has not amassed as liberal a record as Crist, which will be a challenge for the Cruz campaign. Or not: The other difference is that Dewhurst has not decided whether to make the race. He has spoken of running for governor instead. If Dewhurst does not run, Cruz seems quite likely to be the Republican nominee for Senate.
On the Democratic side, retired Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez is likely to make a run, which may also make Texas Republicans more inclined to choose a Hispanic conservative. If he wins, Cruz–who recently noted that he has spent his entire professional life defending the Constitution, often in the Supreme Court–will join Mike Lee in the Senate’s constitutionalist caucus.