With Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst expected to be the lead vote getter in the Texas GOP Senate primary, the more pertinent question being pondered by operatives is which candidate will make the runoff to advance to the second round.
Assuming that Dewhurst fails to reach the magic 50 percent + 1 necessary to clinch the nomination without another vote, the real battle being waged is between former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former Solicitor General Ted Cruz.
Leppert’s advantage is money and geography: He ended the year with $4.1 million in the bank and has a base of name recognition in the northern part of the state.
Cruz is betting on buzz: He’s the chosen one of the conservative intelligentsia, with columnist George Will dubbing him a candidate “as good as it gets” and Sen. Jim DeMint and the Club for Growth christening him as the most authentic conservative choice.
The mindmeld among some GOP operatives it that Cruz is ultimately the most dangerous opponent for Dewhurst because he presents the clearest ideological contrast and has the most fervent supporters.
But The Houston Chronicle lays out why Leppert may quietly be slipping into the desired No. 2 slot, referencing some Cruz stumbles that might’ve been overlooked by the smart fellows in D.C.:
Some of Mr. Leppert’s climb is no doubt due to the recent stumbles of the Ted Cruz campaign. Stuff like his calling the CFR a pit of snakes, his staffer bullying a young “tracker” to leave a meeting, only talking to “pro-Cruz bloggers”, and getting caught with his pants on fire for claiming Lt. Gov. Dewhurst supported a personal income tax, a ridiculous notion. His campaign had run very smoothly all last year but I guess pressure gets to everyone. And he obviously knows that he has slipped to third because he is now attacking Mr. Leppert whereas before he was completely disciplined and focused only on Lt. Gov. Dewhurst.
You can read the rest of this article at: http://www.politico.com/blogs/david-catanese/2012/02/the-runoff-race-leppert-vs-cruz-114546.html