3:33 p.m. Clarification: Veronica Flores-Paniagua, the Outlook editor for the paper, said the editorial board it is not pulling its endorsement of Cruz, but rather simply criticizing Cruz and praising Hutchison. The headline and lead have been updated to reflect this.
The Houston Chronicle newspaper's editorial board endorsed Ted Cruz for Senate in 2012 general election. But a year later, it's not impressed with what it has seen from the junior senator.
"Does anyone else miss Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison?" reads an editorial posted on the paper's Web site Tuesday evening. The piece goes on to laud the career of Hutchinson -- whom Cruz succeeded -- and zero in on her ability to reach across the aisle. Then comes this scathing note of disappointment in Cruz:
One reason we particularly believe that Hutchison would make a difference in these hectic days is that if she had kept her seat, Cruz would not be in the Senate.
When we endorsed Ted Cruz in last November's general election, we did so with many reservations and at least one specific recommendation - that he follow Hutchison's example in his conduct as a senator.
Obviously, he has not done so. Cruz has been part of the problem in specific situations where Hutchison would have been part of the solution.
The paper, it's important to note, didn't back Cruz in the contested Republican primary, opting instead for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. But once Cruz was the nominee, it threw its support behind him. From the October 2012 editorial:
We endorse Ted Cruz to succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison and join Sen. John Cornyn in the U.S. Senate. We do so in the expectation that Cruz will be schooled by the examples of previous senators from Texas, beginning with Hutchison and continuing with Lloyd Bentsen and Lyndon B. Johnson. In Cornyn, he will have a someone to emulate at his side. We expect Cruz as the senator from the Lone Star State to spend his energies standing up for Texans of every background and economic station, representing their best interests from health care and education to energy, space and medicine.
The editorial also alluded to a word of caution from Hutchinson:
She added a warning, noting that the people who supported Cruz in the Republican primary and runoff are from small states with different interests than a large state such as Texas. "He's going to have to choose early between being loyal to [Sen.] Jim DeMint [R-S.C.] and [Sen.] Mike Lee [R-Utah] and the needs of the people of Texas."
We fully concur.
Is one editorial board's opinion of Cruz enough to dramatically shape the Lone Star State's opinion of him? No. But it's a reminder that looking at how Cruz is received back home is well worth watching. National polls are the last thing on Cruz's mind. His standing in Texas and among the conservative base is what matters to him.