When Texas kicked off primary season on Tuesday, the most powerful guy involved wasn't on the ballot. Yep, we're talking about Sen. Ted Cruz.
Since taking office two years ago, the freshman Tea Party senator has made a name for himself with Dr. Seuss-ian pseudo-filibusters and a habit of bucking against the orders of Republican leadership when it came to voting or doing anything he didn't want to do. This has made made him impressively unpopular among members of his own party (a reporter advised Cruz to get a food taster before going to Republican meals), but it has made him beloved by Republicans who have felt that the party wasn't far right enough, as Reuters reported.
It's really a brilliant tactic, when we think about it. A freshman senator who voted with his party and worked to keep the innards of government running wouldn't have gotten much notice, but Cruz has gotten a ton of coverage by playing his favorite party game, "I'm More Republican Than You Are," at every opportunity. This even translated to an impressive amount of power when it came to Tuesday's primaries.
A number of Texas Republicans have adopted the Cruz style, railing against Obamacare, compromise, and anything that doesn't translate to the smaller government Cruz says he values above all else. Cruz didn't endorse anyone for the governor's race or for Sen. John Cornyn's Senate re-election bid, but even a lack of endorsement was a big deal, underscoring the divide between Republicans who aren't as far right as Cruz and his ilk.
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But even in that Cruz is clever like a fox, or an extra-smart hound. An endorsement of Cornyn would have been interesting, but refusing to endorse the second most powerful Republican in the Senate is a bit of political genius, because it shows again that (somehow) Cruz and his opinions matter, even when he's not actually trying to be elected. Yet. The thing about Cruz's opinion mattering so much is this is probably going to translate into a 2016 run at the White House. Hopefully the presidential run will include more Dr. Seuss, starting with The Cat in the Hat.