The Hill reports Sen. Ted Cruz’s opposition to “the federal government’s expansive land holdings” in the West is winning the Texas Senator and 2016 contender support “with Westerners whose lives are impacted by land managers, and could help him win over conservatives in Nevada.”
Nevada comes up early in the GOP primary and is currently scheduled for February 23, 2016.
“This is an issue he’s been focused on for quite some time, and it’s one that plays extremely well with the conservative base in the western part of the United States,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell told The Hill.
Nationwide, the government owns nearly 630 million acres, a landmass bigger than Alaska and California combined. Most of that land, managed by agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service, is located in states west of the Mississippi River.
While previous polls may have had Cruz ‘lingering,’ more recent polls show he has had something of a break-out since announcing early. If he can capitalize on that while showing some strength in early states, including Nevada just before Super Tuesday, he could find himself positioned very well to challenge more establishment candidates competing for the same votes, as opposed to the more conservative Cruz.
O’Connell said Nevada is especially receptive to issues of land rights, and said opposing federal control could play “extremely well” there for Cruz.
“He really needs to get some traction, because he’s lingering in the polls, and he needs some elbow room in this potentially crowded field,” he said.
Nevada could be critical for the senator, as it traditionally follows Iowa and New Hampshire in the early stretch of nominating states. It was third on the GOP presidential calendar in 2012, and is tentatively scheduled to be fourth in 2016.
Early polling indicates Cruz has a real shot in the state.