Ted Cruz has received the endorsement from former California Gov. Pete Wilson, who advocated for an anti-immigrant law regarding public services.
Wilson announced his endorsement of the Texas senator in front of a pack house at the state Republican Party’s spring convention on Saturday.
"He is committed to preserving our constitutional liberties,” Wilson told the crowd, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We can't afford a wild card.”
In a year when outsiders have upended the presidential election, Wilson's backing gives Cruz an influential ally within the party establishment. While Cruz is a tea party favorite and social conservative, Wilson is regarded as a moderate who could help Cruz draw support from the political middle.
Wilson became one of the most polarizing politicians in California after advocating for a ballot measure that would have barred public services for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
According to the LA Times, Proposition 187 is largely blamed for driving California’s growing Latino population away from the Republican Party.
Cruz spoke at the convention outside San Francisco and said California has seen the evil of what he calls Islamic terrorism and that he's the man to stop it.
He referenced the San Bernardino attacks and criticized President Barack Obama for lecturing Americans about "Islamaphobia" rather than condemning Islamic terrorism.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.