In Texas’s GOP primary runoff election this week, there was a winner whose name wasn’t on the ballot – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Cruz’s influence was prevalent in the runoff primary, where Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Rep. Ralph Hall, at 91 the oldest-ever member of the U.S. House, lost to more conservative candidates.
The only candidate he officially endorsed, conservative Konni Burton, beat former state Rep. Mark Shelton with some 60 percent of the vote in the race for a state Senate seat.
Political observers are calling the smooth victory by conservatives over more so-called “establishment Republicans” in Texas a testament of Cruz’s clout, according to The Hill. Tea party candidates have not fared as well in GOP primaries in other states.
State Sen. Daniel Patrick, who will face Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in the November election for lieutenant governor, is being described as another potential Ted Cruz in terms of his unyielding conservative views and willingness to rattle political cages.
Patrick wears the Cruz crown proudly.
“The people of Texas have given us a mandate tonight,” Patrick said in his victory speech. “Tea Party folks love America. They love the Constitution. They love free markets. And they love the Second Amendment. And they love Texas. And they love the liberty that is granted to them by God and not government.”
JoAnn Fleming, executive director of Grassroots America — We the People, a conservative activist group based in East Texas, said: "Dan Patrick, he's going to make people in both parties very unhappy, just like we've seen with Senator Cruz."
Democrats are hoping to use the Cruz conservative tilt of the GOP in Texas to their advantage by portraying them as overzealous and out of touch.
“The days of a pragmatic Texas Republican Party are over,” Texas Democratic Party Communications Director Emmanuel Garcia said, according to The Hill. “U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Dan Patrick have driven their party so far off the ideological cliff there is no room balance and common-sense.”
Republican strategists, meanwhile, are looking at Cruz as a leader who is showing a new way to win elections.
“[Cruz] provided a playbook for conservative candidates to overcome the establishment,” said Texas-based GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak, who advised John Ratcliffe’s campaign, who beat Hall. “In every race, there was a Cruz dynamic.”
“He showed that if you raise enough money to be competitive, and if you run a good campaign and really mobilize the conservative base in Texas, that it can be done.”