Victory for Cruz could bring change to Austin establishment

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on August 1, 2012 at 6:33 PM

DALLAS — This quake didn't register on the Richter scale, but it did send sharp political rumblings deeply through the Republican Party — from Austin, Texas to Washington, D.C.

Ted Cruz' decisive win over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican U.S. Senate primary runoff Tuesday rattled the current Austin power structure, leaving new fault lines that may bring challenges to leaders like Gov. Rick Perry in 2014.

Dewhurst's loss means he stays in Austin, where he told his watch party crowd Tuesday night he still has a lot of work to do.

"We will never stop fighting for our conservative principles," Dewhurst told supporters.

With Dewhurst and Perry staying put, there are no openings among top state offices when other Republican politicians would like to move up.

"It creates a lot of frustration, because there's already a lot of pent-up energy," said Dr. James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at UT Austin.

Dewhurst didn't indicate if he will now run for re-election, but if he does, he will face opposition.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson told Quorum Report that he'll run in the 2014 GOP primary for lieutenant governor.

But the record Perry and Dewhurst share became a vulnerable point with GOP voters. Perry — campaigning with Dewhurst on Monday — talked how closely their records are aligned.

"I'm supporting David [Dewhurst] because I know him," Perry said. "For 10 years, we've worked side-by-side."

But it is not a good time to be a long-time establishment politician. Public Policy Polling — which correctly called the Dewhurst-Cruz race — found in a recent survey that just three out of 10 Texas voters think Perry should run for re-election.

So the tea party and grassroots forces that boosted Ted Cruz are looking ahead to the governor's race.

Katrina Pierson, who founded the Garland Tea Party and who belongs to the Texas Tea Party Caucus Advisory Board, said she thinks Perry must go.

"I don't think Gov. Perry is going to have an easy ride if he does, considering he's already retired," Pierson said. "I don't think people have forgotten that he retired to take additional tax dollars."

She was referring to the disclosure gleaned from campaign finance records during Perry's presidential run which showed he took advantage of a state pension rule to take retirement pay while drawing a full-time salary as governor.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has $14.5 million in his campaign fund, won't reveal his intentions about running for governor.

But Debra Medina, who earned 19 percent of the 2010 GOP primary vote against Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, told News 8 she's now "evaluating" a run for governor or comptroller, but wants to let the "dust settle" from the runoff.

A Perry spokeswoman said he not worried about losing political support.

Perhaps he should ask David Dewhurst about that.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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