Ted Cruz and the Club for Growth/DeMint-ing of the U.S. Senate

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 31 2012 9:53 PM

Ted Cruz and the Club for Growth/DeMint-ing of the U.S. Senate

The ledes on a hundred "Sarah Palin comeback?" stories are being written tonight, after 42-year old, Ivy League-educated, Hispanic Ted Cruz powered past the drab David Dewhurst and won the GOP's U.S. Senate nomination in Texas. Palin endorsed Cruz in May, as he was starting to surge; she previously endorsed Deb Fischer in Nebraska, and bolstered her win/loss record by endorsing Orrin Hatch in Utah.

But the shiny-object coverage of Palin is unfair to the forces who keep purifying the GOP caucus. Sen. Jim DeMint endorsed Cruz more than one year ago, when Rick Perry was entering the presidential race and looked like a possible presidential candidate -- it was a kind of brave, early stance. The Club for Growth spent $4.8 million on behalf of Cruz, who never caught up to Dewhurst in fundraising.

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The goal, as DeMint and Clubbers have said many times, is to create a conservative wing inside the Senate GOP -- an army of DeMints. When Cruz gets to Washington (he just has to roll over a token Democratic opponent), he joins Rand Paul (age 49), Marco Rubio (age 41), Mike Lee (age 41), Pat Toomey (age 50), and Ron Johnson (age 57). There's a good chance he'll join Rep. Jeff Flake, who turns 50 this year. That's a sizable caucus of obstinate conservatives who have, respectively, threatened to filibuster spending deal compromises, called for quicker action in Syria, called the president's move on the Libya NFZ unconstitutional, argued that the government could operate without raising the debt limit, and... well, threatened more filibusters. This is a rising generation of conservatives who just added to their number with a candidate who argued that Rick Perry's candidate was too left-wing.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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