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Ted Cruz tea party victory a GOP 'problem,' top Democrat says

August 01, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro
  • Ted Cruz greets supporters at a voting precinct in Houston prior to his victory over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
Ted Cruz greets supporters at a voting precinct in Houston prior to his victory… (Pat Sullivan / Associated…)

WASHINGTON – As a resurgent tea party takes a victory lap with Ted Cruz’s win in the Texas GOP runoff for Senate, a top Democrat offered a different take.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the chairman of her party’s campaign efforts in the Senate, shrugged off the all-but-certain election of Cruz over the Democratic contender this fall in ruby red Texas.

“It’s more of their problem than ours,” Murray told reporters at a morning briefing.

With his hard-charging approach, Cruz is expected to join the growing ranks of tea party stalwarts in the Senate – making the Republican Party in that chamber look increasingly like the conservative majority across the Capitol in the House.

The influential tea party group FreedomWorks, which ran an extensive ground operation for Cruz, counts the Texas outcome as another step in its “hostile takeover” of the Senate – and the hashtag “#hostiletakeover” was trending on Twitter on Tuesday night as results came in about the Texas runoff.

“Mitch McConnell is now going to potentially have a much more tea party-oriented caucus,” Murray said, referring to the Republican Senate leader from Kentucky. “And we have all seen the damage that has done to our ability to govern, to find compromise and to move this county forward in a positive direction. So I think it’s more of their problem than ours.”

Republicans seem unconcerned about the potential ideological shift underway, as they pursue the handful of seats needed to wrest the majority from Democrats, and celebrated the ascent of a rising Latino political star.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the GOP’s campaign chairman in the Senate, welcomed his fellow home-state candidate. “Ted believes, as I do, that we need to make Washington, D.C., look a little more like the great state of Texas, and that starts with restoring common-sense, conservative values in our nation’s capital,” Cornyn said following Cruz’s win.  

Cruz’s victory is not likely to tip the balance of power in the Senate, because the seat now held by retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is already in the GOP column.

But his win may have another, more lasting influence on the chamber.

Follow Politics Now on Twitter

Lisa.mascaro@latimes.com

Twitter: @lisamascaroindc

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