Someone forgot to tell Texas voters on Tuesday.
Former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, a tea party-aligned conservative once regarded as a long-shot candidate, has won the Republican runoff in Texas, where he will be the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in the November election. The Associated Press has called the race for Cruz over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Cruz will be a heavy favorite over Democratic nominee Paul Sadler, who also won a runoff on Tuesday.Leftists (and I daresay even some moderate Republicans) often cite the fact that Tea Party rallys are few and far between these days. Even when they do gather, the crowds are allegedly scant. But what we're seeing now is the fruit of the movement's labor. A little more than three years ago, in the wake of newly inaugurated President Barack Obama pitching a disastrous health insurance bill, Cap & Trade, Stimulus, etc., people began to become incredibly concerned at the growing monster that is the Federal Government. As such, many gathered at Town Halls and rallys at State Capitols to express their concerns that the very sovereignty of our nation was hanging in the balance. Not surprisingly there were several other people at said gatherings who echoed the same concerns, resulting in a unified political force with which to be reckoned. Hence the Tea Party was born.
Cruz, an emerging conservative star whose father emigrated to the United States from Cuba, has drawn comparisons to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and has been lauded by national conservative political pundits and groups for over a year. His victory is a major blow to the Republican establishment in Texas, which lined up squarely behind Dewhurst. It’s also a victory for the tea party and national conservatives who lined up behind Cruz even when a surprise win appeared unlikely.
Cruz’s win is a remarkable political feat and arguably the Senate upset of the cycle. In early 2011, when Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced her intention to retire, observers regarded Dewhurst as a virtual shoo-in to take her place in the upper chamber. Dewhurst is very well-known in Texas, enjoys immense personal wealth, and enlisted the help of Gov. Rick Perry’s top political hands. Perry endorsed Dewhurst during the campaign.
Even though the rallys and town hall meetings are not quite as vigorous (or frequent), make no mistake that many of those who initially became involved in the Tea Party are now engaged at the grassroots level, whether it's voter contact, door knocking, lit drops, etc. All those activities may escape the bright lights of TV news but are nonetheless vital to a winning political campaign (see Wisconsin recall).
I imagine some may be thinking I'm being a bit heavy handed by citing (of all states) Texas as an example of the Tea Party's viability. Suit yourself. But those who choose to underestimate the Tea Party? Do so at your own peril.