Cruz repays Cornyn’s endorsement in video with him Once at odds on tactics, pair team up well in advance of ’20 elections
WASHINGTON — The alliance between Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz drew tighter Friday as Cruz issued an early and enthusiastic endorsement, warning that with his narrow reelection a month ago, Democrats are emboldened in their quest to reclaim Texas.
“John and I have made a very strong team here in Washington, and I hope that we can keep working together so that together we can uphold the principles that have long embodied the Texas cando spirit,” Cruz says in a twominute video released by the senators’ campaigns.
Cornyn will seek a fourth sixyear term in 2020, and explicit support from a colleague more closely aligned with the tea party and the Trump base would be helpful in solidifying Republican support.
The senators, both conservatives, share much the same agenda.
But in Cruz’s early years in the Senate, they were often at odds on legislative and political tactics, as Cruz encouraged insurgent tea partystyle candidates and bucked Cornyn and others in the party’s leadership.
They kept their distance in elections until this year, when Cornyn threw his weight behind his colleague in what turned out to be a nailbiter against U.S. Rep. Beto O’rourke of El Paso.
Cruz prevailed with less than 51 percent of the vote, the worst showing for Republicans in de cades in a state where Democrats haven’t won a statewide race since 1994.
As a candidate for the Senate in 2012, Cruz refused to say if he would support Cornyn for reelection to his post as majority whip, the party’s No. 2 leadership job. He would wait to see how many “constitutional conservatives” got elected, he told The Dallas Morning News.
In August 2013, Cruz raised more eyebrows when he pointedly refused to endorse Cornyn for reelection the next year. After seven months in office, he was already testing the waters in New Hampshire for a presidential run, and said he would remain neutral.
Cruz issued an endorsement only after Cornyn won his pri mary the following March — and even then, he wouldn’t say whom he’d voted for.
In 2015 and 2016, Cornyn stayed neutral in the presidential primaries, in which Cruz ended up as runnerup to Donald Trump.
With Texas trending purple, the impetus for a mutual embrace has grown stronger.
“Ted and I fight shoulder to shoulder to make the country look more like Texas. That’s why it was critical he came out on top after Democrats put a target on his back and why I campaigned for him across our state,” Cornyn says in the video, in which the senators sit side by side looking into the camera. “I’m proud to have Ted’s support, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Cornyn’s prospects in 2020 are unclear.
It’s a presidential election year, which tends to bring out more voters, though turnout in the midterms was high as Democrats rallied to O’rourke, eager to take down Cruz and also to express their dismay with Trump.
It’s likely O’rourke would be the most formidable challenger if he were to mount a second run for the Senate.
He raised more than $80 million in his bid to unseat Cruz and is eyeing a presidential campaign. Democrats around the country are urging him in that direction, wondering how far he could go with his charismatic and energetic campaign style, progressive agenda and unmatched fundraising prowess.
The dynamic of a Cornyn O’rourke contest would be far different from the CruzO’rourke matchup.
Cruz inspires much stronger sentiments than Cornyn on both sides — fierce devotion from tea partiers and conservative populists, and loathing from others who find his views or his combative approach distasteful.
Cornyn has a solid conservative record but projects a more affable personality, which would offer a fuzzier contrast and tougher target for O’rourke. While the left finds his views no less palatable, he’s not a lightning rod, either.
Aides for both senators said the endorsement was planned a few weeks ago. In the video, Cruz is sporting the beard he grew after the election.