Google “Ted Cruz” and “grassroots” and you get 865,000 hits. That’s because the conventional wisdom posits that Tuesday night’s runoff victory for the former Texas solicitor general against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, in their battle for the Republican nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat, marked the triumph of grassroots Tea Party activism over an entrenched GOP establishment figure.
To be sure, Dewhurst, aided by the backing of Gov. Rick Perry, outspent Cruz, a newcomer to elective politics, by a ratio of three-to-one. And prior to the May 29 primary, in which Dewhurst easily prevailed but failed to attain a majority of votes cast, virtually nobody gave Cruz even the faintest odds of winning.
But a number of factors at work in the Lone Star State make Cruz’s victory more easily understood, and beg the question of whether the new Republican nominee for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison did not himself enjoy the backing of a wholly separate “establishment.”