Ted Cruz, Luckiest Man Alive

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 12 2012 2:27 PM

Ted Cruz, Luckiest Man Alive

You make most of your own luck. When Ted Cruz was just a silver-tongued, 30-something soliciter general in Texas, he was writing op-eds for national conservative magazines, getting notice. In 2009, when it looked like Kay Bailey Hutchison would leave her Senate seat to run for governor, Cruz started cashing in. She lost to Rick Perry and kept her seat. He kept on appearing at ALEC and AFP and Tea Party Express and Values Voters events anyway, making himself known as the ovation-making conservative in ostrich-skin black cowboy boots.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

But here's where events start to break Cruz's way.

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January 11, 2011. Hutchison, who could have easily held her seat for years, announces her retirement. Cruz later files for her seat, starting off miles and miles behind Lt. Gov David Dewhurst.

December 20, 2011. There are problems with the redistricting map the state wants to use, so a panel of judges moves the Texas primary from March 3 to April 3.

February 15, 2012. Federal judges postpone the Texas primaries again, from April 3 to May 29. Instead of having one and a half months to Dewhurst below 50 percent -- and thus, force him into a primary -- Cruz gets three and a half months.

May 29, 2012. Cruz makes the runoff and gets nine weeks to campaign against Dewhurst. Why? Because those earlier timing screw-ups also confounded the usual three-to-six week runoff rule.

Instead of fighting Dewhurst early in the year, when Republican turnout was high and his own name ID was still low, Cruz got an extra five months to campaign, with an election on an eyeball-meltingly hot July day -- something that will keep away less conservative voters and hurt Dewhurst. And now, Cruz is leading in the polls.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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