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Posted at 11:39 AM ET, 07/26/2012

Palin, Santorum, DeMint stump for Ted Cruz in Texas GOP primary

DALLAS – Texas usually exports conservative Republicans to the rest of the country (think John Tower, Phil Gramm, Ron Paul and Dick Armey) but GOP rock stars are flocking to Texas this week to stoke the red-state base.


U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz (Jay Janner - AP)

Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum and Sen. Jim DeMint will be in the Houston area this weekend stumping for tea party favorite Ted Cruz in the final days before Tuesday’s runoff.

Cruz faces Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican primary battle to replace retiring GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

If the prospect of those nationally-known pols campaigning in triple-digit heat isn’t enough to draw your interest, consider the prequel: Texas Gov. Rick Perry has endorsed Dewhurst in the race.

If Dewhurst loses, Perry will lose bragging rights to being a political kingmaker in his own state. It could show him to be out of step with tea party rank and file, and the contest comes as he is already thinking aloud about his own political future.

It’s a less than ideal place to be for Perry, who washed out early in the contest for the GOP presidential nomination this year.

But the focus this week is on the tea party, which kicks off with an event in Dallas Thursday that is expected to draw thousands to American Airlines arena downtown.

“Like the Sons of Liberty before us who met in the pubs of Boston, modern day patriots will gather at FreePAC on July 26th in Dallas, TX to plan a grassroots revolt against the tyranny of Big Government,’’ promised promotional material for the event.

Armey, the former House majority leader who heads FreedomWorks, is among the headliners at the first annual “FreePac: Restoring Freedom’’ conference.

The event, which also features Texas transplant and “media entrepreneur” Glenn Beck, is billed as a continuation of the “hostile takeover’’ of Washington, D.C. that organizers say began in 2010.

On that score, the program also features Richard Mourdock, the Indiana treasurer who bested incumbent Richard Lugar in the GOP primary contest for Lugar’s Senate seat.

Also featured are Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) and Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R).

Tickets are required to see the speakers Thursday night (buy online at prices from are $12-$971) and ticket holders can also attend a late afternoon get-out-the-vote training session and rally for Cruz.

Palin, the former Alaska governor who endorsed Perry in his re-election bid in 2010, and DeMint will be stumping for Cruz on Friday. Palin has already been backing Cruz with automated calls to Texas voters.

Santorum is expected to make appearances with Cruz over the weekend.

Longtime Texas political observers are saying a Cruz victory would be a stunning upset.

“If Cruz wins the race, the Dewhurst campaign will go down in Texas political history as one of the worst that has ever been run–and one of the biggest upsets since Rick Perry defeated Jim Hightower in 1990,’’ Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka writes. “Dewhurst had every advantage–name I.D., money, conservative record, Rick Perry’s endorsement (if that’s an advantage.) Cruz had nothing except the ability to connect with the far right. But based on where the energy is in the Republican party, that may be all Cruz needs.’’

As thousands of tea partiers descend on Texas, they are savoring Wednesday’s House vote to pass Ron Paul’s “Audit the Fed’’ bill. Although Senate approval is far from assured, it has been a galvanizing moment.

No doubt few tea partiers would agree with pundit George Will’s assessment of the long-term impact of the race.

“If Dewhurst wins, Capitol Hill gets a veteran conservative legislator,’’ Will writes. “If Cruz wins, congressional conservatism's small but valuable Doesn't-Play-Well-With-Others Caucus adds a member.’’

Lori Stahl covers politics and culture in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LoriStahl.

By  |  11:39 AM ET, 07/26/2012

Tags:  Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint, Dick Armey, Glenn Beck, tea party, Ted Cruz, David Dewhurst, Rick Perry, Texas, Republican

 
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