The political battles in Texas are often not so much between conservatives and liberals as they are between the crazy right wing and the unbelievably crazy right wing. And Rick Perry is now finding himself attacked as not being crazy right wing enough.
The stage for Texas’s latest Republican civil war is the Senatorial runoff between Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, a Perry ally who is very conservative by most measures — he passed tax cuts through the State Senate and tightened abortion laws — and former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who among his conservative beliefs, has said that the Council on Foreign Relations is “a pernicious nest of snakes” that is “working to undermine our sovereignty.”
Cruz surged into a surprisingly close second in the primary on May 29, forcing a runoff next month, and marking the arrival of the Tea Party revolution in Texas, where the unusual dynamic — Perry beat back challenges from both a relative moderate and a Ron Paul supporter in 2010 — had muddied the ideological waters. The Texas runoff is part of a national shift in the balance of power inside the Republican Party, and is centrally between Establishment figures like Perry and Dewhurst and populist outsiders like Cruz. And while the race probably won’t have immediate national implications — either candidate will be heavily favored to carry the state in November — Cruz’s emergence is a mark of the shift in how the Republican Party chooses its candidates.
“It’s a message to [Perry and Dewhurst] from the party that they need to move on,” Joe Barnett, a precinct chairman from Arlington, told BuzzFeed at the Texas Republican Party Convention at the Fort Worth Convention Center…
Perry and his aides, however, reject this narrative, and their fight for Dewhurst is also a battle to maintain the delicate balance between anti-government conservatism and the dexterous political use of government that was a running issue during Perry’s failed presidential campaign. Perry, the nation’s longest-serving governor, is taking yet another political risk just two years before he is to face reelection — and the outcome of which could determine the success of his political rehabilitation after his unsuccessful presidential run.
“We need more strong, conservative Texans in Washington, including my friend and colleague David Dewhurst,” Perry, among the most conservative candidates in the 2012 Republican presidential race, said in the middle of his speech, drawing boos and chants of “Cruuuuzz,” from thousands of conservatives in the audience.
Remember, you’re never pure enough. Ever.