This week, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick offered some tough love to his friend Sen. Ted Cruz. He told a talk show radio host that if Cruz fails to endorse Donald Trump before the presidential election, he will be “left behind in the rear-view mirror of the Republican Party.” Of course, Patrick added he has been visiting with his pal Cruz about this, trying to talk some sense into him.
“You know, I stay loyal to my friends, and Ted’s a friend,” Patrick said, “but obviously I’m disappointed. I’m hoping there’s still time for him to come forward.”
It’s been a point of contention ever since Cruz failed to endorse Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer. As a result, he was booed off the stage like an amateur comedian who bombed, then was ambushed with questions from constituents and conservative media about his bullish refusal to do endorse his former rival.
And they’re still waiting for an answer.
But would the magic words of a reluctant endorsement, basically forced out of him by concerned GOP friends like Patrick and critical Cruz-cum-Trump supporters, really be what Cruz needs to put himself on higher ground as his 2018 re-election campaign gears up? Besides, what about all the other mishaps that have tarnished his track record? Here’s a look back at just a few.
His aptitude for racial profiling. Let’s start with the most recent fluke: As Houston Press writer Dianna Wray pointed out this week, after news broke of the New York bombing and the Minnesota stabbings, Cruz immediately jumped to a familiar proposal: banning refugees from the Middle East from entering the U.S. Little problem — neither of the attackers were Middle Eastern refugees. But never mind that nuance. It’s not the first time Cruz has proposed such an idea: After the ISIS attack in Brussels in March, Cruz proposed acute surveillance of “Muslim neighborhoods.” He said we must “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” But again, never mind the problems with that: If we’re talking about winning an election, then the racial-profiling strategy has appeared to work well for the man he lost to in the run for president.
Nobody likes him (in the Senate). Ted Cruz knows it. He knows he is not cool. As he told millions of viewers during a primary debate last fall, “I may not be the guy to drink with you at the bar, but I’ll be the guy to drive you home.” But, see, there’s a difference between painting yourself as a reliable guy who may not be likable and, in reality, being a guy who is not likable because he is too difficult to work with. Difficult to the point that former House Speaker John Boehner called him “Lucifer in the flesh.” To the point that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said other senators could get away with murdering Cruz on the Senate floor. But the real problem is nobody, save for one senator from Utah, will endorse him. Worst of all: Not even his own Texas mate, John Cornyn, the Senate majority whip. It was basically payback, since Cruz refused to endorse Cornyn during his own Senate run. But while that snub didn’t appear to hurt Cornyn very much, we’re not so sure it’s a two-way street this time.
That time he bit off way more than he could chew. That being when he helped initiate a government shutdown in 2013 with no plan for how to get it back up and running. And thought he could stop Obamacare by annoyingly engaging in a 21-hour filibuster and reading Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor. Sure, by 2018, this event will be five years in the past. And with all the 2016 presidential hubbub and drama it will seem even further in the past than it really is. But what it will remain is the epitome of Ted Cruz, one of the most relevant portraits of a stubborn Tea Partier who loves basking in grand opposition of, well, pretty much everyone and everything — and especially a plan with an Obama namesake.
The thing is, though, Cruz has been savvy at using portraits such as that one more so to his advantage. After all, he did promise his constituents he would do everything he could to stop Obamacare, and clearly, he did. His efforts to derail the president’s greatest domestic policy accomplishment were a major talking point of his presidential campaign and a display of loyalty that many constituents appeared to find attractive. Whether they care about all the political relationships he managed to sever in the process while also mounting unsuccessful loner-guy operations, however, is up to them when they cast their ballots.