The Washington Post

Ted Cruz isn’t Rand Paul or Marco Rubio. Here’s yet another reason why.

On Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) did something Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) already did and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) won't.

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters) (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

We're talking about endorsing the reelection bid of the Senate's top ranking Republican, Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who faces a primary challenge from businessman Matt Bevin.

Rubio's decision was another reminder that (1) Cruz has zero interest in building bridges with the GOP establishment, and (2) his position goes against the grain of Paul and the Florida Republican, the Senate's two other highest-profile conservative members.

Rubio joined Paul, who has been in McConnell's corner for months. But Cruz won't be making it a trifecta of conservative Senate supporters. He said earlier this year that he intends to stay out of incumbent primaries, a decision which at the time was seen as a kick in the teeth of home-state Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who may also face a conservative challenge.

Paul clearly sees some practical benefit in endorsing McConnell. By offering McConnell a much needed dose of tea party support and the potential to bring his own backers with him, Paul is doing McConnell a solid favor.  And in politics, favors beget more favors.

Paul has signaled that if he runs for president in 2016, he won't do it the way his father did, by mostly shunning the GOP establishment. Instead, he is expected to cultivate relationships with Republicans like McConnell, whose help making inroads with establishment donors could be very, very useful.

Rubio clearly isn't shunning the establishment, either. He worked on crafting an immigration reform bill earlier this year, something the establishment wing of the party has been clamoring for in the wake of a disappointing election in which Republicans performed poorly among Hispanics. And he didn't hesitate to back McConnell, even as the Kentuckian faces an opponent backed by a national conservative group, the Senate Conservatives Fund.

But Cruz is charting an entirely different path. He's noted that he didn't come to the Senate to make friends. And he's not going to back any of his colleagues in primaries, an even more stinging posture considering that he is vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a group that is dedicated to incumbent protection.

What's more, during the government shutdown standoff, Cruz led the charge to defund the Affordable Care Act, further alienating himself from many leading Republicans. Rubio and Paul were very much in the background during that period.

Rubio, Paul and Cruz all arrived in the Senate in similar ways. Each of them defeated higher-profile Republican primary opponents. Where did their paths diverge? When they got to the Senate. Paul and Rubio clearly see value in playing nice. Cruz clearly does not.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
New Hampshire primary: What to expect
New Hampshire will hold a traditional primary just eight days after the Iowa caucuses. Polling in the Granite state has historically been volatile in the final weeks before the primary. After the Iowa caucuses, many New Hampshire voters cement their opinions.
The Post's Ed O'Keefe says ...
Something has clicked for Bush in New Hampshire in the past few days. What has transpired by no means guarantees him a top-tier finish in Tuesday’s Republican primary here, but the crowds turning out to see him are bigger, his delivery on the stump is crisper and some of his key rivals have stumbled. At the least, the developments have mostly silenced talk of a hasty exit and skittish donors.
The feminist appeal may not be working for Clinton
In New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders is beating Clinton among women by eight percentage points, according to a new CNN-WMUR survey. This represents a big shift from the results last week in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton won women by 11 points.
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.