Not true, says Cruz. While acknowledging that Tea Party candidates Christine O'Donnell (Delaware) and Sharon Engle (Nevada) lost to Democrats in 2010 races that stronger candidates might have won, Cruz says the overall record of Tea Party candidates is far better than the establishment's record. He cites Florida, where Marco Rubio beat Charlie Crist in a primary despite Crist's support from the GOP establishment. Cruz says Rubio was the right candidate given Crist's post-election switch to the Democrats. Crist is now running for governor as a Democrat.
Cruz offers other examples in which Tea Party candidates won over hand-picked establishment candidates: Pat Toomey over Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania; Mike Lee over Robert Bennett in Utah; Rand Paul over Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's candidate, Trey Grayson, in Kentucky. He might add himself to that list. "Every one of these," he says, "was elected by the Tea Party against huge opposition from the establishment and all of their money."
Can promoting such candidates win back the Senate for Republicans in November? Cruz says, "Many of the critics are saying the path to victory in November is for Republicans to put their heads down, don't rock the boat, don't take any stands. ... I think history has proven that that is a consistent path to failure. The way to win in November is for Republicans to take principled stands. ... That doesn't mean we need to fight on everything. You pick your battles. ... When Washington politicians retreat on every issue, it demoralizes grassroots conservative activists who are the key to winning in November."
Given the results of the last two presidential elections and their own poor record, the GOP establishment may want to put themselves on "Cruz control."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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