The Coming Ted Cruz Boom

Tomorrow Texas is holding its peculiarly late (a product of legislative confusion related to judicial review of redistricting) Republican Senate runoff, and all signs (other than David Dewhurst’s dubious internal polls) are that Tea Party fave Ted Cruz is going to win. A new Public Policy Polling survey has him beating Dewhurst by ten points, after beginning the campaign far behind.

Get used to hearing Cruz’s name, a lot. As Dave Weigel explains, there is virtually no legitimate ideological reason for the national movement conservative prefererence for Cruz over Dewhurst. It is all about his age (42) and ethnicity. Republicans understand the demographic trap they are in, which they might escape this year and in 2014 by revving up white-identity resentment of Barack Obama to a high-pitch chattering whine, but can’t forestall forever. They can appeal to minority voters by changing the ideology, or just finding minority candidates who will speak and vote like an angry 75-year-old white man from Alabama. The former strategy is not an option for them.

So conservatives need some possibilities other than Marco Rubio to become Latino poster persons going forward: Rubio is Cuban-American, which is not helpful with many Spanish speaking constituencies, and also has some potential ethics issues in his background. Dewhurst was entirely expendable. So expect Ted Cruz to get a lot of attention beginning at the Republican Convention in Tampa, and continuing at next year’s CPAC conference.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.