Dewhurst, Cruz Home In on Conventioneers
The lineup for the highest profile political race in Texas is still undecided, with both major parties having runoffs in July to pick nominees for U.S. Senate. At the state Republican convention in Fort Worth, the two contenders are fighting to win over party activists.
The campaign between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz has been characterized by attack ads and name calling. That mood spilled over to the convention, where just the mention of Dewhurst’s name by Gov. Rick Perry received a round of boos on Thursday.
Friday morning, Dewhurst showed up in the flesh before the convention crowd. Some Cruz supporters got up and left as Dewhurst began to speak.
“It is an honor for me to be here today with you,” Dewhurst said. “Because I know who has helped make this great state of Texas the greatest state in the nation. And that’s you.”
Dewhurst got a few boos, but you could also hear people shushing them.
No matter the reaction, the real battle wasn’t on the convention center floor, it was in the exhibition hall. That’s where Cruz and Dewhurst each had tables handing out thousands of stickers, fliers and yard signs. And the two candidates duked it out by each trying to connect with the most delegates.
But what makes the 8,000 delegates at the convention so important, when almost 1.4 million people voted in the GOP primary for Senate? For starters, only a fraction of those people, typically the most dedicated Republicans, are expected to vote again in the runoff. And those are just the kind of people who come to party conventions, according to James Bernsen, Cruz’s communications director.
“Now all these people have met Ted,” Bernsen said. “They’ve heard our message. They’re going to go back to their communities, and these are the people who bring five friends to the polls.”
Both candidates will have plenty of money to spend on campaign ads trying to get their supporters to the polls. But the run-off date is set for the middle of the summer. That means tons of distractions could keep people from voting, and getting the support of convention delegates might go a long way towards deciding who walks away with the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate on July 31.