Following the stunning win by Democrats in the Alabama Senate race, other races for 2018 are now very much in play. One of the top three may be Ted Cruz’s seat in the normally red state of Texas. This would be the same Ted Cruz who shocked the crowd as the Republican National Convention where he made his speech encouraging Republicans to “vote their conscience.” Especially the Trump family.
But Cruz’s shining moment of integrity soon vanished. Mercer money called and before too long Ted was supporting his former nemesis – the man who called his wife “ugly” the man who claimed that his father was somehow involved in the assassination of John Kennedy – Donald J. Trump. He went beyond the required party line of “I support the nominee” he actively campaigned for Trump.
That’s Ted, manning the phone banks for Trump. To paraphrase the majestic line from “A Man For All Seasons” – ‘what profiteth a man to gain the whole world should he lose his own soul – but for Trump?’ Cruz is the junior Senator for Texas who is just completing his first term in the Senate. Yet even in that short period of time, Cruz has made his mark. Fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina once said about Cruz:
“If you kill Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was held in the Senate, nobody could convict you.”
It’s quite a feat to make yourself that unpopular among your fellow Republicans in such a short period of time. But there are other reasons that the Democrats were looking to replace Cruz before the Alabama debacle for the Republicans. While Cruz still has a large number of devoted followers, for whom he can do no wrong, most of them are not registered voters in Texas.
For starters, Trump’s margin of victory in Texas was significantly lower than the numbers racked up by Romney in 2012 and McCain in 2008, even with the support of hometown boy Cruz. As the Dallas Morning News reported on the day after the election, Trump won the state by a single digit margin of 9 percent, or a mere 900,000 votes, compared to Romney’s 16 percentage points over Obama and McCain’s 12 percentage points.
Compared to Trump’s margin of victory in Alabama where he swept the state with a nearly 29 percent victory over Clinton, Texas already looked vulnerable. Alabama also demonstrated that Trump has energized opposition among minorities, women, millennials, and Hispanics who turned out in record numbers to vote against his endorsed candidate. These groups will figure significantly in the 2018 Senate race in Texas.
Relatively unknown Democrat Congressman Beto O’Rourke has thrown his hat into the race against Cruz, and appears to be holding his own. But there is still a question if another strong Republican decides to primary Ted Cruz. Cruz has every right to expect Trump to support him should that occur, but it may have already dawned on him that for Trump, loyalty is a one-way street.
Before Alabama, the Democrats felt they might have a chance to flip Arizona (Jeff Flake’s open seat) and Nevada (Dean Heller), but emboldened by their upset victory in Alabama, they now have the opportunity to flip four Senate seats. And assuming they don’t lose any of their current Senators (always a possibility) that would mean Trump would face a Democrat-controlled Senate after 2018. Is it any wonder that Mitch McConnell and his cronies are rushing through a record number of judicial appointments (even those rated as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association)?
It’s beginning to look like nobody needs to murder Cruz on the Senate floor. By his slavish devotion to Donald Trump, Cruz may already have committed political suicide.