Dewhurst digs for North Texas Leppert voters in runoff

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on June 12, 2012 at 6:25 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 12 at 7:42 PM

DALLAS — North Texas voters will see so much of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the next seven weeks they may think he moved here.

Facing a tough runoff in the Republican Senate race with Ted Cruz, Dewhurst is looking for support from voters who backed former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert — who did well in North Texas, but fell short of enough votes for the runoff.

While visiting Vermeer, an Irving business that sells trenchers used by the pipeline and utility industries, Dewhurst dug for votes while talking about private sector job creation, which had been the centerpiece of Leppert's campaign.

"What Tom Leppert's campaign was about — jobs, and growing the economy, and giving more opportunity — is really my message," Dewhurst said.

Dewhurst now calls the former Dallas mayor "a great man," even though he attacked Leppert prior to the primary for leading Dallas like a liberal Democrat.

Dewhurst may not get Leppert's endorsement, but he needs his voters.

Leppert, with his jobs message, ran strong in the big four North Texas counties, where he took 31 percent of the Dallas County Republican vote; 27 percent in Denton and Collin counties; and 25 percent in Tarrant County.

Cruz, an appeals attorney who was the state's Solicitor General, is also looking for North Texas voters with his jobs pitch.

"We need to have fundamental tax reforms, slash the corporate tax rates, and dramatically cut the spending of the federal government," Cruz told News 8.

He also wants to repeal the health care law backed by President Obama and congressional Democrats.

But polls show Leppert voters break sharply for Dewhurst in the runoff, and Dewhurst underscores that he's a private-sector guy who can create jobs like Leppert.

"I've been in business all my life. I still run my business," Dewhurst told employees at Vermeer.

However, Cruz won't back all job creation initiatives. Cruz' campaign said he will not support the guest worker plan for immigrants — some possibly illegal — approved at the state Republican convention last weekend.

"We have a crisis in illegal immigration, which much be resolved before we can consider any reforms to legal immigration," a Cruz spokesman said.

Dewhurst isn't taking a position yet.

"I'm going to have to take a look at it very, very carefully," he said.

Dewhurst's job is to persuade voters who liked someone else in the primary to hire him in the runoff.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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