Six years ago, Ted Cruz scored a key endorsement from a major Texas newspaper, the Houston Chronicle.
He was the hometown guy, a Houston resident who had become Texas solicitor general. Then he knocked Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst out of the saddle while winning the 2012 Republican U.S. Senate primary; he would win the Senate seat handily that year.
Six years later, Cruz has squandered the support of the Chronicle, which has “enthusiastically” thrown its support behind Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.
At one level this is a big deal. The Chronicle’s editorial spells out why Cruz has disappointed the paper’s editorial board. He’s self-serving, overly ambitious, too intent on furthering his own political interests, he ignores Texas’s needs, he is a grandstander.
Read the editorial here.
The paper suggests that O’Rourke, a native of El Paso and a member of the U.S. House, might be “the next Bobby Kennedy.” The paper is impressed with O’Rourke’s enthusiastic campaign and his stated commitment to Texas and to Texans. It notes that O’Rourke has “strong opinions” but “reaches out” to those with whom he disagrees.
At one level, I welcome the endorsement. Then reality kicks in. Will a newspaper’s statement matter? Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry kicked sand in the faces of editorial boards statewide in 2010. He said he wouldn’t meet with editorial boards, preferring to “speak directly” to Texans as he campaigned for re-election; newspapers across the state endorsed former Houston Mayor Bill White — and Perry still won by a double-digit margin.
That all said, it’s advisable to take the Chronicle’s endorsement with a degree of skepticism. I don’t doubt for a moment that the paper believes O’Rourke would do a better job in the U.S. Senate. I agree with the paper, which makes it credible to my eyes.
I want to take particular note of how Cruz has become a Trump acolyte — even after Trump hung the “Lyin’ Ted” insult on him during the 2016 GOP presidential primary; he also denigrated Heidi Cruz, the senator’s wife; and suggested that Cruz’s father was involved in President Kennedy’s assassination. O’Rourke is likely to serve as a necessary check on a president who presents a host of dangerous notions for Americans to ponder.
If only this endorsement can turn the tide. One can hope. I will do so.