Before he won his U.S. Senate seat in 2012, Houston lawyer Ted Cruz spoke to more than 30 Tea Party groups across Texas.
If the most staunch, Washington-wary activists in Texas didn’t have any problem with his connections to the New York-based Goldman Sachs banking firm, conservative Republican voters probably won’t have much of a problem now.
With early voting in the Texas party primaries less than a month away, Cruz this past week faced his most challenging week after becoming one of the Republican Party frontrunners.
And he would have come away almost unscathed had he not popped off about New York.
Cruz became a target of derision from New York media after mocking fellow frontrunner Donald J. Trump’s “New York values.”
The Daily News headlined: “Drop Dead, Ted — Hey, Cruz: You don’t like N.Y. values? Go back to Canada!”
The last line reflects the other high-level turbulence for Cruz last week: Trump’s ongoing harangue over Cruz’s Canadian birth to an American mother.
Trump argues that regardless of whether Cruz is a “natural-born” citizen eligible for the presidency under the Constitution, lawsuits challenging his eligibility would delay his taking office and acting on reform.
Both the New York investor and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, took verbal swings at Cruz in a South Carolina debate on Thursday, with Rubio questioning Cruz’s Senate votes and portraying him as a political opportunist.
The decisive moments of the primary season are yet to come, when some of the second-tier Republican candidates led by Florida’s Ben Carson either move up or drop out.
The departing candidates will leave enough voters behind to help Cruz or Rubio make the race closer, but they also might add to Trump’s lead.
New Yorker Trump faces an expensive challenge in Texas, where Cruz has more of a campaign network.
Trump’s experienced Texas campaign manager quit last week, leaving him with little leadership here and probably an expensive TV campaign.
If nothing else, last week makes it clear that Texan Cruz is now considered a strong and well-organized frontrunner for his party’s nomination.