Ted Cruz, the Tea Party Republican from Texas of Hispanic descent, won his Senate bid on Tuesday, providing what may prove to be the most significant win for conservatives and Republicans when it comes to the future of the movement and the party.
In the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss in Tuesday’s election, Republicans and the mainstream media immediately claimed conservatives needed to compromise with Obama and Democrats and appeal to Hispanics by becoming more moderate.
The Republican establishment thinks the party needs to court minority voters by fielding moderate Republicans like Kay Bailey Hutchison, the outgoing Texas Senator whom Cruz is replacing, and David Dewhurst, the moderate, establishment-approved Lieutenant Governor whom Cruz defeated in a bruising primary fight.
Cruz was endorsed by a bevy of conservative heavyweights; that was enough to keep him in the game against Dewhurst, but Sarah Palin’s endorsement in the week before the primary moved the needle and led to a runoff with Dewhurst, which Cruz ultimately won.
Cruz’s campaign officials noted they had never seen a candidate’s numbers move so dramatically after an endorsement from someone as they did after Palin’s campaign appearance on behalf of Cruz in the days before the election.
Cruz proves Republicans can appeal to minorities with Tea Party conservatives. His win is also important for three other reasons.
First, Cruz is a conservative who can potentially anchor the Senate and unite the intellectual and Tea Party wings of the of the Republican party.
“If President Obama means what he says on the campaign trail, if he is interested in working to bring people together to reduce the deficit and get people working, then I will work with him,” Cruz said at his victory rally. “But if he is re-elected and intends to continue down this same path, then I will spend every waking moment working to lead the fight to stop it.”
Secondly, Cruz’s Hispanic heritage proves Republicans are just as diverse as Democrats in the highest electoral offices. He represents Hispanic conservatives who are opposed to amnesty and the DREAM Act, which the establishment and Wall Street wings of the Republican party want to enact, thinking it’ll be a gateway to the Hispanic community.
On FOX News on Wednesday, Cruz said Republicans need to do a “better job communicating our values to the Hispanic community” but emphatically noted Hispanics are a “conservative” community.
Third, the Tea Party often gets derided for not being able to appeal to intellectuals. In Cruz, Tea Partiers have a conservative who is a Harvard and Princeton graduate and could one day even become a Supreme Court Justice. When Dewhurst tried to use Cruz’s legal career against him in the primary, Cruz’s supporters often made the point that it would not hurt if the Tea Party had someone fighting for them who knew many of the legal and legislative nuances that are necessary for navigating the Senate. Texas Tea Partiers told Breitbart News then they typically hated lawyers but would not mind Cruz representing them in Washington.
During the primary, Cruz said his race against Dewhurst would be “ground zero” in the battle between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment. His victory demonstrates conservative candidates and their positions can inclusively appeal to minorities.