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Can Cruz Pull It Off?
His opponent is the favorite, but turnout could prove critical.

Ted Cruz and daughter at a campaign event in Houston, May 29, 2012

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Katrina Trinko

Team Dewhurst, meanwhile, remains confident. “We’re sort of in new territory, in terms of experiencing summertime turnout,” Carney acknowledges. “We’re not going to let the outside groups try to dominate the race as they did at the end last time,” he adds.

The Dewhurst campaign is making the case that Dewhurst has significant accomplishments. “There’s this saying in Texas, ‘All hat and no cattle.’ This really reflects exactly what Ted offers — a lot of talk with no record to back it up,” Carney says. “Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst and he agree on a lot of the issues, no question about it. But the difference is that David Dewhurst actually accomplished these things.”

The Dewhurst campaign also rejects the notion that Cruz has more tea-party appeal. “We split the tea-party vote in the primary,” Carney says.

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Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, predicts that Dewhurst will win. “But there is something to the [Cruz campaign’s idea] that a low turnout favors them,” he adds. He says it is unclear how low turnout will be, although it will almost certainly be lower than it was for the primary.

Mackowiak calls Cruz the “slight favorite” in the July 31 runoff election. “You almost couldn’t pick a worse day to vote in Texas,” Mackowiak says. “There was such low awareness of the May 29 date. There will be even less awareness of the July 31 date. You’re going to have very low turnout, and Ted’s base is more likely to vote.” Another factor that boosts Cruz is that he forced the runoff, Mackowiak says: “The invincibility has been pierced.”

Jillson thinks the runoff will eventually generate more excitement in the Lone Star State.

“Before early voting starts, you’ll see a media blitz on both sides,” he predicts. “No one can miss the fact that there’s an important election. Now whether they turn out in the heat of the summer remains to be seen.”

— Katrina Trinko is an NRO reporter.



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