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New York Times: GOP Establishment Faces Harsh Reality – Warms to Cruz


Jonathan Martin writes in the New York Times:

NEW ORLEANS — Striding up the sidewalk of one of this city’s most affluent neighborhoods on Monday evening, S. Scott Sewell seemed an unlikely figure to be attending a fund-raiser for Senator Ted Cruz. An oil industry executive, Mr. Sewell served in President George Bush’s administration, lent a hand to George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential recount, and was twice a chairman for Mitt Romney’s Louisiana campaigns.


But if such a creature of the Republican establishment appeared an odd fit to support a candidate whose political identity was shaped challenging his party’s leadership, the candlelit, art-filled setting for Mr. Cruz’s reception was even more surprising: the elegant home of the longtime Bush loyalist Mary Matalin and her husband, James Carville, the Democratic strategist.

The vast majority of Republican elites remain bitterly opposed to the prospect of Mr. Cruz’s becoming the party’s presidential nominee, some even preferring to take their chances with Donald J. Trump. Yet, to the strains of a jazz trio a block from St. Charles Avenue here, over Texas barbecue at his Houston campaign office and in one of Washington’s see-and-be-seen steakhouses, Mr. Cruz, Washington’s chief anti-establishment agitator, has quietly begun wooing some of the party’s most entrenched donors and officials.

“We’re working hard to consolidate a lot of support,” Mr. Cruz told a reporter as he mingled with guests arriving at Ms. Matalin’s home.

Some in the old guard have started signaling to their reluctant right-of-center brethren that it is time to face the possibility that the hard-line Mr. Cruz could be their standard-bearer.

“If Cruz makes it, which is very doable, every one of the establishment crowd who is now eviscerating him will line up, salute smartly and get on board,” Ms. Matalin said, offering a mix of prodding and prophecy. “No one will want to be responsible for a G.O.P. defeat.”

That even traces of détente have appeared between Mr. Cruz and the party’s traditional power brokers this early illustrates how thoroughly unpredictable the Republican race has been — and that, for major political donors, it can be safer to hedge one’s bets in such a volatile environment.


Ms. Sands, a philanthropist who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to establishment-aligned Republicans, predicted that “this election will also be a ‘base’ election, and we need a candidate who inspires and excites the base of our party to come out and vote.”

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