Senate Hopefuls Spar in Texas - In the spirit that now dominates the GOP, both say they hate the word "compromise."
Most candidates say they will fight for their values, but Mr. Cruz's promise has captured the imagination of conservative leaders. Sarah Palin, tea-party kingmaker Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), the small-government group Club for Growth and others hope Mr. Cruz will top Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in Tuesday's Republican primary for the Senate—or at least force Mr. Dewhurst into a runoff.
They are casting the 42-year-old Mr. Cruz as a leader of the coming generation of conservatives—the "next great conservative hope," National Review magazine called him—because of his personal story and résumé stocked with work for A-list conservative figures.
The son of a Cuban immigrant who entered the country with little money, Mr. Cruz earned a law degree at Harvard, clerked for the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and served in President George W. Bush's Justice Department. As the former Texas solicitor general, Mr. Cruz won cases before the Supreme Court supporting the Pledge of Allegiance, the right to display the Ten Commandments on state grounds and Texas' right to execute a Mexican citizen convicted of murder.
Mr. Dewhurst, 66, displays irritation at Mr. Cruz's rhetoric. "He's never been in a fight in his life," he told a Republican party gathering in Athens, Texas, earlier this month. "I've balanced five budgets without raising taxes," Mr. Dewhurst said in an interview. "I'm interested in representing the people of Texas, not a couple of United States senators in Washington."
Mr. Dewhurst is a self-made millionaire in the energy industry and one of the most powerful figures in Texas government. But Mr. Dewhurst's nearly 10 years as lieutenant governor have prompted critics to label him part of the establishment and to say he "split the baby" in deals with Democrats on tax-and-spending cuts.
Nine Republicans are trying to succeed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican who has served in the Senate since 1993, including former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert and former NFL player and sports commentator Craig James. But the primary is mostly a contest between Messrs. Dewhurst and Cruz.
The winner of the GOP contest is highly favored in the general election against the winner of Tuesday's Democratic primary. That race includes former state lawmaker Paul Sadler and political newcomer Sean Hubbard.
A poll last week by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found Mr. Dewhurst leading the GOP race by 46% to Mr. Cruz's 29%. Other polls have shown Mr. Cruz trailing by single digits.
To win, Mr. Cruz must prevent Mr. Dewhurst from taking half the vote on Tuesday, forcing him into a July 31 runoff in which Mr. Cruz would hope to consolidate the opposition to Mr. Dewhurst.
If that happens, Texas would join several other states in which challengers have caused trouble for Senate candidates identified with the GOP establishment.
In Indiana, six-term Republican Sen. Richard Lugar lost his primary. In Nebraska, state Sen. Deb Fischer trounced heavy-hitting Attorney General Jon Bruning. In Utah, Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving senator in state history, was forced into a runoff.
As of May 9, Mr. Cruz had raised $5.8 million. Mr. Dewhurst raised $6.4 million but lent the campaign more than $12 million from his own fortune.
The lieutenant governor has spent millions on ads lambasting Mr. Cruz's representation of Chinese tire interests and saying he lacks experience. Mr. Cruz is working to tar his older opponent as a weak, moderate conciliator. "The establishment has circled its wagons around David Dewhurst," Mr. Cruz said.
Mr. Dewhurst bristles at the idea that Mr. Cruz, who has spent most of his adult career in government, is an outsider. "I don't know that Ted is having much success in pushing himself as the anti-establishment candidate, with his out-of-state endorsements," Mr. Dewhurst said.
Despite the ferocity of the contest, the two men back many of the same issues. Both want to repeal the Obama health-care law, Dodd-Frank financial-industry regulations and most limits on domestic oil and gas drilling. Both favor deep cuts in income taxes and federal spending. And in the spirit that now dominates the GOP, both say they hate the word "compromise."
To a large degree Mr. Cruz is running on his image as a revolutionary and his personal narrative. "What an enormous blessing it is to be the child of an immigrant who fled oppression," he said.
Mr. Dewhurst thinks it takes more than that to make a difference in Washington. "I'm the only proven, tested conservative in this race," he said.