DALLAS - Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz didn't back down in tone or rhetoric in his own open letter to opponent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst Monday.
Cruz was responding after most of the senators in the Republican senate caucus released on open letter defending Dewhurst, who oversees the senate, from attacks by Cruz in their increasingly bitter runoff campaign.
Cruz wrote to Dewhurst, "These facts are undeniable. If you disagree, or if you believe your record as leader of the Texas Senate is what Texans want and deserve in the U.S. Senate, stop hiding behind surrogates and articulate your vision of how we restore the Constitution as the dominant influence over the role and scope of the federal government."
In a sign that GOP state senators have heard enough, they spoke as one Sunday night in a letter refuting the attacks by Cruz against Dewhurst.
Dewhurst and Cruz are in an aggressive battle to win the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate spot being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison and face each other in a July 31 runoff.
In the letter released by the Texas Senate Republican Caucus and first reported by Quorum Report, the senators wrote, "statements have been made that are untrue regarding the records of Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, the Republican Texas Senators, as well as Governor Rick Perry. This letter is to set the record straight."
The letter then defends Dewhurst and GOP Senate action last year regarding bills on sanctuary cities, TSA anti-groping, state income tax and state spending.
Cruz has accused Dewhurst of supporting a state income or payroll tax, not being forcefully behind the sanctuary cities and TSA bills and allowing state spending to increase while Dewhurst has led the Senate since 2003. Dewhurst has denied the charges saying his record shows he's the most fiscally and socially conservative lieutenant governor in state history.
The Senate eventually passed the TSA and sanctuary cities bills in last year's special session although they died in the House.
Cruz, in his letter, accused Dewhurst of skipping numerous debates and forums where he could defend his record and then laid out more attacks. Cruz wrote, " It is a fact that under your leadership, the sanctuary cities bill did not pass into law. It is a fact that under your leadership, the TSA groping bill did not pass into law and according to at least one Senator, you personally solicited the help of a Democrat Senator to kill the TSA bill. It is a fact that under your leadership, you led the effort to increase spending and the overall state budget grew $72 billion – from $116 billion in 2003-2004 to $188 billion 2010-2011."
Along with Perry's endorsement, the Senate caucus letter is another forceful sign that the Republican establishment is lining up firmly behind Dewhurst. But, it can also be viewed that the Cruz attacks are drawing blood necessitating a firm push back after Cruz made a strong finish in the days leading up to the May 31 primary finishing behind Dewhurst 45-34%. Polls have shown Cruz enjoys stronger tea party voter support than Dewhurst and that these voters are more energetic about turning out for Cruz for the runoff.
The next three weeks will be critical as runoff campaign picks up after the holiday week with more TV campaign commercials, Cruz and Dewhurst facing off in a state wide debate on WFAA's Inside Texas Politics, at 7 p.m. July 17 and early voting runs July 23-27.
Winner of the runoff will almost assuredly be elected in November since Republican statewide candidates still enjoy the advantage of more GOP voters in Texas and a huge fundraising edge over Democrats.