John Cornyn Finally Stops Pretending to Tolerate Ted Cruz

After spending four years railing against anything and everything he could to grab headlines and reinforce his reputation as a Tea Party firebrand, it looks like Sen. Ted Cruz is finally getting his comeuppance. 

Sure, Cruz parlayed his habit of grandstanding and rebelling against whatever was being proposed — even the proposals from members of his own party — into a failed bid for the GOP presidential nomination, but he also made a whole lot of enemies along the way. And now it looks like those enemies are coming for Cruz's political scalp.

On Wednesday night Sen. John Cornyn told CNN that he will not, in fact, be supporting Cruz in a potential 2018 primary race to keep his Senate seat. (Rumor has it U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul may be looking at a run.)

When asked whether he'd back Cruz or McCaul in such a showdown, Cornyn was impressively diplomatic. He responded that he is “not going to get involved in any primary races, particularly with my colleagues in the Senate."

That may not sound like a big deal, but Cornyn has been in the Senate for 16 years, and is the Majority whip, the highest ranking Texas senator since Lyndon Johnson served more than 50 years ago. Thus, he's got some serious pull in the Senate itself and he has strong ties with GOP donors — and Cruz will not be benefiting from any of that when he has to run to secure his seat in 2018.

Cornyn has never been over the moon about Cruz, or vice versa, but the two have kept things technically civil since Cruz was elected junior senator from Texas in 2012. 

Cornyn has even been influenced by Cruz. For a while those who didn't get in line with the Cruzian Tea Party stance of never giving an inch to the Democrats on any issue were faced with backlash from the public. Cornyn isn't exactly a moderate, but even he began to trim his sails and move further to the right back in 2013, shortly after Cruz landed in the Senate, as Politico noted at the time. 

But that was in the early days, before Cruz had managed to make an enemy of just about everyone in the Senate. Cornyn and most of the other senators opted not to back Cruz in his presidential nomination bid, even as Donald Trump went from being a joke to becoming an actual candidate. All the while, Cornyn stayed determinedly neutral. 

Now it seems Cornyn can stop all that nonsense.

Ever since Cruz took the stage at the Republican National Convention, gave an impassioned, moving speech about democracy and stuff, and then refused to endorse Trump, his political fortunes haven't been looking so hot. The convention audience booed him over his refusal to "say the name."

An August poll from Public Policy Polling showed Cruz faring poorly, with 38 percent saying he isn't doing a good job and a 48 percent disapproval rating, implying he may have trouble hanging onto his seat in 2018. On top of that, Trump has openly encouraged former-fellow presidential wannabe former-governor Rick Perry to run for Cruz's seat. 

Back when Cruz started out, he was a bomb-thrower who tended to buck party leadership whenever an opportunity presented itself, and that was fine because his constituents just loved it. However, now that he's apparently not the darling of the far right — a lot of them prefer the orange guy with tiny hands and alarming racist opinions these days — people like Cornyn don't have to put up with him anymore. 

We've got a while before the 2018 primary issue really starts coming up — after all, the voters have to elect a new president first — but it's going to be interesting to see who else stops playing nice with Cruz.

The guy had the power of the people before, but if the people are through with him, there are a lot of Republicans who have a bone to pick with Cruz.

Democrats too.

Disliking Cruz may be one of the few things most members of the U.S. Congress actually agree on. 
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Dianna Wray is a nationally award-winning journalist. Born and raised in Houston, she writes about everything from NASA to oil to horse races.
Contact: Dianna Wray