in Houston, Texas
As Senate candidates square off, a display of Texas' 'rightward drift'
Friday, May 04, 2012, 11:32AM CST
By Steve Miller

The U.S. Senate candidate forum in Houston Wednesday was summed up neatly in a headline by the San Antonio Express-News: “At Senate debate, Cruz rips Dewhurst, who rips Obama.” It’s a truth-telling header that speaks more to the lack of panache of either of the front-runners vying to take the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, the Tea Party favorite, has hammered on the notion that he is the real conservative in Republican primary, while his foe, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, has allowed Democrats to chair state Senate committees during his tenure under Gov. Rick Perry, which began in 2003.

The forum allowed each candidate to speak his piece about how he planned his own version of change, which Dewhurst used to promote himself and berate the Obama administration rather than to take on Cruz, whom he leads 38 to 26 percent, according to one poll.

"We need quite frankly, to send Barack Obama back to Chicago, get a good conservative Republican in the White House, that will follow a stable predictable course, so businesses know that the rug won't be pulled out from under their feet," KUHF in Houston reported Dewhurst as saying. "Invest it in creating millions and millions of new jobs, that will turn this country around."

The Texas Tribune reported that Dewhurst promised to apply “the Texas model” to his position in Washington if elected, a light touch on businesses that would enable growth. “We're seeing an avalanche of job-killing regulation" from Washington, D.C., Dewhurst said.

Among the best assessments of the Texas race for the Senate shows up of all places in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in an Associated Press column

The tone of the race is just one sign of the continuing rightward drift of politics in one of the most conservative states. With nearly 50 percent of Texas voters calling themselves "very conservative" in a recent poll, the competition in the GOP is now all about who's the purest and most doctrinaire. And longtime officeholders who rose in an earlier time can find themselves held up against the new breed of hard-liners who brook no compromise with the opposition.

KERA in Dallas has an excellent gathering spot for voters to check out the platforms of the candidates, a Republican primary field that also includes former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former ESPN analyst Craig James. Former state Rep. Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard, a former sales and billing worker in Garland, are vying for the Democratic nomination, although the primary is expected to serve as the election for an office in which Democrats have little chance.

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or

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