Ted Cruz and the changing face of the Republican party

Ted Cruz’s come-from-behind victory in the Texas GOP Senate runoff on Tuesday — and the near-certainty that he will cruise to a general election win in November — ensures he will immediately join a rapidly growing group of rising national Republican stars that have one big thing in common: None of them are white.


Five things you didn’t know about Ted Cruz: A closer look at Texas’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in November.

Cruz, a Cuban-American, joins Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Govs. Bobby Jindal (La.), Susana Martinez (N.M.), Nikki Haley (S.C.) and Brian Sandoval (Nev.), as well as South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott as non-white Republicans — Cruz, Rubio, Sandoval and Martinez are Hispanic, Jindal and Haley are Indian-American, and Scott is black — that are nearly certain to run for national office, serve on a national ticket or be mentioned for a national ticket at some point in the not-too-distant future. And, with the exception of Jindal, all of them have been elected since 2010.

For a party that has struggled in recent years to escape the caricature that it is dominated by old, white men, the spate of minority faces rising to statewide office is a welcome development.

“The Republican Party is changing,” said one senior Republican strategist granted anonymity to speak candidly. “There are new and emerging leaders who speak to a broader audience. And it is badly needed.”

To be clear, a handful of Hispanic, Indian-American and African-American elected officials with star potential does not mean that the Republican party is changing top to bottom — whether in its composition internally or in its ability to appeal to minority voters.

Democrats still hold a wide lead when it comes to the raw number of minorities in elected office — and that gap seems unlikely to narrow significantly at any time in the near future.

And, more problematically for Republicans’ electoral math, the party has shown almost no signs of making inroads in the black or Hispanic community in national elections. In the 2008 presidential race, for example, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took just 31 percent among Hispanic voters — a disastrous showing for a party that badly needs to find a foothold among the nation’s fastest-growing demographic group.

Given how badly the party has struggled among non-white voters, however, the crop of minority candidates with a legitimate case to make it on the national stage (at some point) is a stunning development and can, if the GOP plays it right, help it change the face — figuratively and literally — of the GOP.

In the 2016 or 2020 Republican presidential primary, it’s easy to see a contest that includes Jindal and Rubio in its top tier. Democrats seem unlikely to match that level of diversity in their own 2016 contest — where Govs. Andrew Cuomo (N.Y.) and Martin O’Malley (Md.), both white men, are the early frontrunners.

That’s a remarkable thing to consider.

Romney doubles down on culture remark: Romney isn’t backing off his contention that Israeli culture has allowed that nation to thrive, and in fact, he’s doubling down on it.

The comment made during Romney’s trip to Israel drew some criticism for what some saw as a slight of Palestinian culture. But Romney wrote in a National Review op-ed that his comment stands.

“In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy,” Romney wrote. “But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture? In the case of the United States, it is a particular kind of culture that has made us the greatest economic power in the history of the earth.”

Romney added: “Like the United States, the state of Israel has a culture that is based upon individual freedom and the rule of law. It is a democracy that has embraced liberty, both political and economic. This embrace has created conditions that have enabled innovators and entrepreneurs to make the desert bloom. In the face of improbable odds, Israel today is a world leader in fields ranging from medicine to information technology.”

Romney said earlier Tuesday that his comment was not meant as a criticism of Palestinian culture. But in his initial remarks, he noted the difference in economic results between the Israeli and Palestinian cultures.

Downballot update: Cruz’s victory wasn’t the only significant result Tuesday.

In the House:

- Texas state Rep. Pete Gallego defeated former congressman Ciro Rodriguez in a tight race for the Democratic runoff to face freshman Rep. Quico Canseco (R-Texas.)

- Gallego’s fellow state Rep. Randy Weber won the GOP nomination in retiring Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) district. He will be favored against former congressman Nick Lampson (D).

- Attorney Filemon Vela won the Democratic nomination in the new Democratic-leaning 34th district and is favored to join Congress.

- Former secretary of state Roger Williams won the GOP nomination in the new GOP-leaning 25th district and should win in November.

- Both noteworthy GOP primaries in Georgia — in the new GOP-leaning new 9th district and to face the very vulnerable Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) — are headed to runoffs.

Rep. Davis resigns: Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) unexpectedly resigned from Congress on Tuesday, citing family concerns that require his full attention.

“As a result, I cannot continue to effectively fulfill my obligations to both my office and my family. Family must and will come first,” he wrote in a statement.

Davis had already announced his retirement, and it’s too late for a special election before the regular November election, so the move has little effect on the 2012 race.

Fixbits:

It turns out the White House was wrong, and Winston Churchill’s bust was removed from the Oval Office. (A separate bust remained elsewhere in the White House.) Communications director Dan Pfeiffer has apologized to columnist Charles Krauthammer, who initially (and correctly) reported that the Oval Office bust was had been sent back to the British embassy when Obama took office.

Romney will join GOP governors for an event at a school in Basalt, Colo., this afternoon.

He has also announced a swing-state tour of Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia starting Aug. 10, which has some thinking that may be when he announces his vice presidential pick.

A former staffer for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) presidential campaign is suing her for allegedly stealing a private e-mail list of home schoolers.

Elizabeth Warren says she regrets repeating a supporter’s statement that she would “save capitalism.” “I passed along a comment that was over the top, and it was silly for me to do so,” she told reporters Tuesday.

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) moves toward embracing the man who defeated him in the primary, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

Dueling polls in Rep. Chris Gibson’s (R-N.Y.) district show him up 17 and 10 points.

A GOP state legislator in Tennessee suggests Obama may stage a fake assassination attempt in order to win reelection.

Must-reads:

Does Mitt Romney Have a Problem Being Wealthy?” — Margaret Carlson, Bloomberg

Obama allies turn to targeted TV ads to shore up niche voters” — T.W. Farnam, Washington Post

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read

politics

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters