Bud Kennedy

Question: Why jump from Cruz to Trump?

Katrina Pierson, a Garland Republican, is now the Trump campaign’s top spokesperson.
Katrina Pierson, a Garland Republican, is now the Trump campaign’s top spokesperson. The New York Times

As a star of Tea Party stage and screen, Garland Republican Katrina Pierson has helped us forget that she once called for Texas to secede from the U.S.

She now favors staying here in Make-America-Great-Again Land, as the new No. 1 spokesperson for New York Republican Donald J. Trump.

Pierson’s move this week to Trump’s maverick campaign came with her praise for his “unparalleled capabilities and successes … He is the only one who can Make America Great Again.”

As recently as summer, though, she was calling Texas Sen. Ted Cruz “our next president.” One South Carolina blogger described the former congressional candidate as Cruz’s “secret weapon.”

So, what happened?

Nothing that isn’t happening to several Texas Republicans, party activists and consultants said.

It’s a short jump from one anti-establishment campaign to the other, with Cruz and Trump neck-and-neck in a recent Texas Tribune poll, but with Trump keeping a wide national edge.

“Both candidates have that outside-the-beltway appeal, and Trump is leading in the polls,” activist and Cruz supporter Adrian Murray of Fort Worth wrote in an email.

“People are tired of losing, and Trump projects himself as a winner, which is what people are hungry for — message aside,” wrote Murray, founder of an independent 912 Project group in Fort Worth in 2009, about when Pierson co-founded the Garland Tea Party as part of a Dallas-area network.

Cruz’s mixed success in his first Senate term works both for and against him.

Trump supporters say they like Cruz, but he hasn’t accomplished much.

Cruz supporters say he’s done more than Trump.

If there is any friction at all between the two candidates themselves, it might have surfaced for the first time Thursday when Cruz registered for the New Hampshire primary.

Asked about Trump, the Houston lawyer said some candidates “talk a good game on the trail, but haven’t walked the walk and [been] a consistent conservative.”

In a state where Cruz polls fifth or sixth, trailing even Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Cruz said he’s the only “fiscal conservative, a social conservative, a national security conservative.”

When Cruz announced in March, Pierson said: “When [voters] meet him … they will be blown away by this man, his character, his stature, and his passion.”

That was before Trump blew in.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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