The Tea Party has toppled another mainstream Republican, this time in Texas. Lost in much of the coverage of the primary contest between Houston attorney Ted Cruz and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was the November general election, which will feature a real, live Democrat. The assumption behind the media oversight, of course, is that with Texas about the reddest of the crimson states, a Democrat running for national office had better just do it as cheaply and as graciously as possible before his inevitable loss, given the party’s 18-year losing record in elections for statewide offices.
Paul Sadler, the oilman’s son who is opposing Cruz in November, wants to hear none of that talk. “It’s not as long-shot as people think,” Sadler said Wednesday from his office in Austin, the day after his own primary victory. “My phone has been ringing off the hook. A lot of those calls were from Republicans and independents saying, ‘We’re not going there,’ and there are a lot of them.” “There” being the Tea Party.
We know it’s possible for Democrats running statewide to attract Republican votes. We know this because two years ago Bill White got between 200,000 and 400,000 votes from people who otherwise mostly or exclusively voted Republican. Had the last gubernatorial election been in 2008 instead of the debacle that was 2010, Rick Perry would be just another idiot Fox News correspondent today. How Sadler communicates to these people – how he lets the Kay Bailey Hutchison wing of the state GOP in on the fact that he has a lot more in common with KBH than a conspiracy theorist like Ted Cruz does – without any money and in such a way that it does not cause base Democratic voters to revolt is a question I can’t answer. But if he can do that then yes, I think there’s the potential for a more competitive race than anyone would have you believe.