No one seems to like Washington, D.C., these days, including the two Republican U.S. Senate candidates who are crisscrossing Texas asking voters to send them there.
While Ted Cruz has been running for more than a year on a platform of challenging the GOP establishment in the Senate, his opponent, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, tried to one-up him Thursday by calling for policy changes that Dewhurst said would “blow up politics as usual in Washington, D.C.”
At an event in Waco, Dewhurst called for curbing congressional pay and benefits, limiting members to 12 years in office and preventing elected officials from lobbying immediately after they leave office.
“Congress has increasingly grown out of touch with the private sector and the rest of America, and we must re-align the values and priorities of our representatives with the people they represent,” Dewhurst said in a statement.
The policy ideas are hardly new and have no chance of ever being enacted, said University of Texas government professor Sean Theriault, who studies Congress.
“This is total pandering to a public that views Congress with 8 to 15 percent approval rating,” Theriault said, adding that the proposal is quite similar to that offered by Gov. Rick Perry during his failed presidential bid.
Locked in a tight runoff campaign, the Dewhurst campaign has been trying to paint Cruz, a former state solicitor general, as a “D.C. insider” because he has been drawing significant support from Washington-based groups and conservative leaders, including tea party favorites U.S. Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Cruz, 41, has also refused to commit to serving only two terms in the Senate unless a constitutional amendment is enacted so everyone is subject to the same constraint.
“He wants to go back and stay there forever,” said Matt Hirsch, a Dewhurst campaign spokesman, referring to Cruz’s past work in Washington as a lawyer in the Bush administration and a law clerk at the
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