Today is a big day in Texas as the race to replace retiring GOP senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is finally facing its first vote. While there is a Democratic primary today, more people are paying attention to the Republican race since the winner of that contest is heavily favored to win in November.
Because the primary has so many candidates, it's likely that the top two candidates are going to have to face each other again in a runoff election. In polls, the top two candidates are David Dewhurst, the more establishment-oriented liuetenant governor, and Ted Cruz, an attorney who is going after the Tea Party vote:
Recent polls show Dewhurst well ahead of Cruz, and the consistent front-runner in the race. But in order to avoid a run-off this July, he needs to earn at least 50 percent of the vote - a threshold he has yet to breach in recent surveys. If Cruz can maintain his second-place positioning and keep Dewhurst under the 50 percent mark, he could build on a recent surge in momentum and publicity. [...]
Cruz, Texas' 41-year-old fomer solicitor general, has never been elected for statewide office - but the candidate has racked up considerable support from high-profile conservatives in his bid for the Republican nomination. Last Thursday, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum gave Cruz his backing, citing what he called his "wow factor." Earlier this month, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin endorsed Cruz, as has Texas Rep. Ron Paul, S.C. Sen. Jim DeMint, and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey. In the Washington Post, George Will called him "a candidate as good as it gets." [...]
Despite his seemingly impressive conservative credentials, Cruz has from the get-go faced a formidable challenge in going up against Dewhurst. The lieutenant to popular Texas Governor Rick Perry, Dewhurst has several endorsements racked up, including that of Perry and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. [...]
"For people that like Gov. Perry's record, then he can make the point that they should like his record," said Texas Republican Party chair Steve Munisteri. "All of the pieces of legislation that Perry got through that are popular, the lieutenant governor can take credit for as well."
Texas NBers, feel free to weigh in with your comments on the race right here.