Texas Attorney General and GOP Senate candidate Ted Cruz is someone many think represents the future of the conservative movement. But in a state as large as Texas, Cruz began his campaign lacking the name identification and the funds of moderate establishment Republican Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst, who is the frontrunner because of the advantages brought by the political establishment.
And while Cruz has been endorsed by conservative Senators such as South Carolina’s Jim Demint, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, and Utah’s Mike Lee in addition to influential conservative groups like FreedomWorks, nothing gives a campaign more rocket fuel, especially among conservatives, than the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
When asked to describe the already-surging Cruz campaign before and immediately after Palin officially endorsed him last Thursday, Cruz Campaign Manager John Drogin told Breitbart News, “What's the difference in the temperature between venus and the sun? The campaign was venus hot pre-Palin endorsement and sun-spot hot post-Palin endorsement.”
According to Drogin, Cruz’s campaign website had over eight times the normal traffic after Palin’s endorsement, and the campaign received nearly 900 donations since she gave it.
“Phones are ringing off the hook, volunteers are signing up, and social networks are buzzing,” Drogin said.
Dewhurst, who has supported higher taxes and sanctuary cities, seemed unlikely to get Palin’s support, but her strong endorsement gives Cruz much-needed name recognition and buzz as Texans head to the polls.
“Your conservative principles, passionate defense of our Constitution and our free market system come at a time when these cornerstones of our freedom and prosperity are under attack,” Palin wrote Cruz in her endorsement. “Our shared goal isn’t just to change the majority in control of the Senate, but to assure principled conservatives like you are there to fight for us.”
On Twitter, Cruz (@TedCruz) tweeted Palin (@SarahPalinUSA), “I'm humbled and honored to have your support as we fight to restore fiscal sanity to the circus that is Washington!”
The initial Facebook post announcing her endorsement had over 1,500 “likes” and 600 “shares.” On Twitter, Cruz’s announcement had over 200 “retweets” and thousands of mentions.
A flood of comments on Cruz’s Facebook page included those like, “her endorsement is enough to get my vote!,” “If Sarah Palin stands with Ted Cruz, then I do too,” “Is there any doubt anymore who the conservative is in this race?,” and, “I support Sarah Palin, and after a lot of research I can honestly say you’re the man for this job; Thank you for your willingness to help take on the establishment (Both sides) and return this great nation to its former glory.”
“Gov. Palin's endorsement clarified any doubt that Ted Cruz is the clear Constitutional conservative choice in the Texas race for U.S. Senate,” Drogin said. “The response from conservatives in Texas and around the country who are ready to take our country back from the establishment has been overwhelming.”
Palin’s power in Texas was made evident during the 2010 election. Her endorsement powered Gov. Rick Perry, who was in a primary battle against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, to the Republican nomination, something Perry may not have secured on his own given his lukewarm poll numbers.
Many of Perry’s advisers work for Dewhurst, so they are well aware of the impact Palin can have in a Texas primary election.
According to Public Policy Polling, whose most recent poll had Dewhurst leading Cruz 38 percent to 26 percent (Dewhurst had held a 29 point lead), “Dewhurst's superior name recognition is the main reason he continues to hold a lead of any size over Cruz.
“Among voters who are familiar with Cruz -- whether they have a positive opinion of him or not -- Cruz leads Dewhurst 39-34. That suggests that as Cruz's profile continues to increase this race may continue to get closer.”
And nothing increases a conservative’s profile and saturates the media landscape more than a Palin endorsement.
Early voting starts on Monday, May 14. The primary is on May 29. If no candidate gets over 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two vote recipients on July 31.