Vol 33, Issue 29 Print Issue

Two Democrats Weigh a Cruz Challenge in 2018

Former state Sen. Wendy Davis getting ready for a television interview inside of the Wells Fargo Center, site of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, on July 27, 2016.
Former state Sen. Wendy Davis getting ready for a television interview inside of the Wells Fargo Center, site of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, on July 27, 2016.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is rallying his supporters against another prominent Texas Democrat who is flirting with challenging him in 2018.

In an interview published Wednesday in the Washington Examiner, former gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis did not rule out taking on Cruz, prompting a dismissive email from Cruz's campaign to his backers. Davis, a former state senator from Fort Worth, made the remarks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"Another day, another Democrat in Philadelphia dreaming of turning Texas blue," Cruz's team wrote. "This time it's failed liberal extremist Wendy Davis."

The email then asked Cruz supporters to register their opinion: "In the battle of Texas cowboy boots v. pink running shoes, who do you stand with?" Davis is well known for the sneakers, which she wore during her 2013 filibuster against abortion restrictions.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, made clear Thursday morning that he is serious about potentially challenging Cruz, ripping him as self-interested and mocking his reaction to a possible re-election fight.


"He freaked out," Castro told reporters at the Democratic National Convention. "He freaked out when he read that. That's what I would expect for someone who hasn't spent any time working for the people of Texas."

Castro made waves when he said in a TV interview Tuesday that he will consider taking on Cruz in 2018, prompting an alarm-sounding email from Cruz's campaign seeking donations. Castro has previously suggested he could take on Cruz. Castro said Thursday he will decide whether to challenge Cruz in the next several months — and began to make his case for a potential run.

"Ted Cruz said he'd go to Washington and change Washington, and he has — he's made it worse, much worse," Castro said. "And Texans have figured out that Ted is for Ted, not for Texas. Texas needs a senator that is actually working on the behalf of the people of Texas."

Castro is scheduled to address the convention Thursday evening here in Philadelphia. He said he will talk about the difference between the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump, including the "fact that she will build opportunity in America, and if he's elected, he's going to tear down opportunity."


State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, the Texas Senate Republican Caucus chair, is urging fellow Texas Republicans to coalesce around Donald Trump and "vote a straight Republican ticket" from "the White House down to the courthouse."

In a statement "reacting to any endorsement controversies" at the Republican National Convention, which concluded Thursday, the Houston state legislator praised the speeches that Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, delivered in Cleveland.

Trump formally accepted the party's nomination on Thursday, but Republicans otherwise struggled to project a united front this week. Delegates opposed to Trump's nomination made a scene on the convention floor when party leaders denied them a roll-call vote on party rules, and Texas' own Ted Cruz made headlines for refusing to endorse Trump in a primetime speech on Wednesday.

“The right thing for Republican leadership to do is to join my call to vote straight ticket Republican from the top of the ballot to the bottom, and you only have 108 days to get it right!” Bettencourt said.