Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s public standing sags after Floyd protests GOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police MORE (R-Texas) was the most disliked member of the Senate Republican Conference for much of his first six years in Congress, but colleagues are rallying to his side in the face of a serious reelection challenge from Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D).
Polls show a tight race between Cruz and the photogenic O’Rourke, who would make history if he could pull off what would be a huge upset in the Lone Star State.
A Cruz loss would also put GOP control of the Senate very much at risk, which has senators who have sometimes been at odds with the tough-talking Texan coming to his aid.
The entire Senate Republican leadership hosted a fundraiser for Cruz at the end of June, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.), whom Cruz once famously called a liar on the Senate floor, has made the maximum donation to Cruz’s campaign through his leadership PAC, the Bluegrass Committee.
Cruz has also received $5,000 from Senate GOP Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate headed for late night vote amid standoff over lands bill Koch-backed group launches ad campaign to support four vulnerable GOP senators Tim Scott to introduce GOP police reform bill next week MORE’s (Texas) leadership PAC, $10,000 from Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Hillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate headed for late night vote amid standoff over lands bill | Trump administration seeks to use global aid for nuclear projects | EPA faces lawsuit alleging failure to update flaring requirements MORE’s (R-Mo.) Rely on Your Beliefs Fund and $10,000 from Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoGOP senators urge Trump to back off Murkowski threat House Democrats roll out 0B green transportation infrastructure bill IRS proposes guidance for expanded carbon capture tax credit MORE (Wyo.), chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.
The open wallets aren’t surprising, but they are notable given Cruz’s past clashes with colleagues.
Cruz infuriated GOP leaders in the fall of 2013 by rallying House conservatives to oppose any government funding bill that didn’t block the implementation of ObamaCare — a political fight that resulted in a 16-day government shutdown that hurt the GOP’s brand right before a midterm election year.
Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Cindy McCain ‘disappointed’ McGrath used image of John McCain in ad attacking McConnell Report that Bush won’t support Trump reelection ‘completely made up,’ spokesman says MORE (R-Ariz.) at the time called the shutdown a “fool’s errand,” while Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerGOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism Trump asserts his power over Republicans Romney is only GOP senator not on new White House coronavirus task force MORE (R-Tenn.) repeatedly criticized Cruz for leading the party into a “box canyon” from which there would be no easy escape.
McConnell later likened the painful ordeal to the “kick of a mule.”
The animosity went both ways.
Cruz once accused McConnell on the Senate of lying about a secret deal with Democrats to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
“We know now that when the majority leader looks us in the eyes and makes an explicit commitment, that he is willing to say things that he knows are false,” Cruz fumed.
Cruz even refused to endorse Cornyn, his home-state colleague, in the 2014 Texas Senate GOP primary. Cornyn returned the gesture this year when he declined to publicly back Cruz in his primary race in March.
Things grew so acrimonious between Cruz and many of his Senate GOP colleagues that Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op MORE (R-S.C.) joked at the 2016 Washington Press Club Foundation Congressional Dinner, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”
But GOP leaders and rank-and-file Republicans alike are putting aside those differences in the face of an existential threat to Cruz’s Senate career in the form of O’Rourke, the skateboarding ex-punk rocker who has amassed a stunning $23.6 million campaign fund. The latest fundraising reports show O’Rourke with more cash on hand, $13.9 million, than Cruz, at $9.3 million.
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A Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss feelings about Cruz within the GOP caucus said his past conflicts with the party won’t hurt support from colleagues when he needs it most.
“Elections tend to bring parties together. For the most part, everyone in the caucus will want to help the party remain in power,” the lawmaker said. “Already you’ve seen some national money be directed to Texas. I imagine that the whole party will be behind Cruz in the election.”
Recent polls shows Cruz in a neck-and-neck race.
An Emerson College poll published at the end of last month showed Cruz ahead by only a point, while an NBC News–Marist poll showed him up 4 points, right around the margin of error.
Cruz has stepped up his campaigning, crisscrossing the state to meet voters and match O’Rourke’s pace.
“I’m focusing my time and energy on campaigning across the state last week. I did 17 townhalls all over the state of Texas and that’s where the time and energy is best spent,” he told The Hill.
Asked how much money the National Republican Senatorial Committee would allocate to help Cruz in Texas, Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior faces legal scrutiny for keeping controversial acting leaders in office | White House faces suit on order lifting endangered species protections | Lawmakers seek investigation of Park Police after clearing of protesters The Hill’s Campaign Report: Republicans go on attack over calls to ‘defund the police’ MORE (R-Colo.), the committee’s chairman, said he isn’t worried about the race.
“Ted Cruz is going to win, so I’m not concerned about Texas,” he said Thursday.
O’Rourke has spent $2.8 million on ads in the general campaign, while Republicans had spent only $226,000 in the state as of Aug. 29, according to a tally by NBC News.
While colleagues have contributed to Cruz’s campaign, he doesn’t expect any of them to visit Texas in the next two months to help him on the stump.
“I don’t think Texans are likely to make a decision in this campaign based on the views of senators representing different states,” he said, noting that Cornyn has endorsed him in the general election.
Cruz campaigned for several colleagues in the 2014 midterm elections: Sens. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsTrump tweets spark fresh headache for Republicans Trump’s tweet on protester sparks GOP backlash GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (R-Kan.), David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanUS security starts in the Arctic Senate confirms nation’s first African American service chief GOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas MORE (R-Alaska).
Cruz’s unpopularity probably hit a high point during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, when he pointedly declined to endorse President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE during a prime-time speaking slot. Angry delegates booed Cruz off the stage as Trump stood at the back of the convention, pumping his fist and egging the crowd on.
Since then, knowing his reelection would be exponentially tougher if Trump — who won the state by 9 points — opposed him, Cruz has remade himself as more of a team player.
And he has mended his relationship with Trump, often defending the president and his policies to reporters on Capitol Hill.
Trump has vowed to repay Cruz for his loyalty by holding a major rally for him in Texas this October in the “biggest stadium” he can find.
“Ted has my complete and total endorsement,” the president declared before the Labor Day weekend.
Other Republicans who have donated to Cruz include include Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderState, city education officials press Congress for more COVID-19 funds Hillicon Valley: Senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests | Amazon pauses police use of its facial recognition tech | FBI warns hackers are targeting mobile banking apps Republicans prepare to punt on next COVID-19 relief bill MORE (Tenn.), $10,000; Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (Utah), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoOn The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman’s COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions GOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman’s COVID-19 response MORE (Idaho), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziGOP senators dodge on treatment of White House protesters House GOP lawmakers urge Senate to confirm Vought The Hill’s Morning Report – Can Sanders be stopped? MORE (Wyo.), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrExclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? Trump asserts his power over Republicans FISA ‘reform’: Groundhog Day edition MORE (N.C.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill MORE (Okla.) and Sullivan, who have all given him $10,000; Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy NSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general MORE (Pa.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate subcommittee: IRS should increase oversight of tax-prep companies in Free File program Senate report: Chinese telecom firms operated in US without proper oversight for decades GOP’s Obama-era probes fuel Senate angst MORE (Ohio), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerPrivate lawsuits are a necessary expedient in privacy legislation Bottom line GOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill MORE (Miss.) and Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseTim Scott to introduce GOP police reform bill next week GOP votes to give Graham broad subpoena power in Obama-era probe Senate GOP shifts on police reform MORE (Neb.), who all gave $5,000; and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottHouse Republicans hopeful about bipartisan path forward on police reform legislation Rand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill MORE (S.C.), who donated $2,000, according to campaign finance records verified by the Cruz campaign.