There is an interesting political story unfolding right now in Texas. And it's not about Gov. Rick Perry (R) or state Sen. Wendy Davis (D).
We're talking about Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R). Once a promising prospect for higher office, Dewhurst is now in a primary fight to keep his job against a trio of Republicans who have taken aim at his handling of a legislative debate over abortion that has captured national attention.
Eighteen months ago, Ted Cruz was a starry-eyed Texas Republican with long-shot hopes of becoming a United States senator. On Tuesday, the former state solicitor general looks headed to an unlikely runoff victory over Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, win that would defy the power of the state’s GOP establishment.
A Cruz win would not only be a major rebuke of the well-known (and VERY well financed) Dewhurst, but it would also arguably be the most significant statewide upset of the 2012 cycle to date. (Yes, we’re talking about the same cycle in which a sitting senator was dislodged in Indiana and a little-known state legislator won the GOP Senate nomination in Nebraska.)
There are three key reasons for this.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is very likely to be the clear first-place finisher in tonight’s GOP Senate primary in Texas.
But if Dewhurst fails to get 50 percent of the vote and the race goes to a runoff, it’s a (mostly) new ballgame.
In Texas, the race to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is all about the GOP primary, after Democrats’ prized recruit — former general Ricardo Sanchez — crashed and burned early in the race.
The GOP contest so far has been a bit of a jumbled mess, and Dewhurst’s top tea party competition, former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, has been badly outspent in a crowded field that includes former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert.
Still, Cruz appears to be the top threat to gain a two-man runoff with Dewhurst, and even if he finishes far behind Dewhurst today, it’s hard to count him out in the July 31 runoff.