Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 23, 2014

Ted Cruz Unsure on Backing John Cornyn if Elected

Ted Cruz Unsure on Backing John Cornyn if Elected

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:55 p.m. | A controversy is stirring up in Texas about leadership, conservatism and state loyalty.

It began last night, when the Dallas Morning News published an interview with former Solicitor General Ted Cruz. Cruz said he was undecided on whether he would vote for Sen. John Cornyn for GOP Senate Whip in November, should he be elected to the Senate.

Cruz “won’t decide his vote for GOP whip, one step below party leader, until November — once it’s clear how many ‘constitutional conservatives’ got elected,’ Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News wrote.

“I’m not going to prejudge,” Cruz told the paper.

Cruz walked back the comments today on Lubbock radio station KFYO, questioning the context of the statements.

“Ted has long been a fan of Sen. Cornyn, and he appreciates Sen. Cornyn’s strong leadership fighting for conservative principles,” Cruz campaign manager John Drogin said, echoing his boss’s radio comments.

Drogin called it “presumptuous” for Cruz to declare leadership support “unless and until he is elected to the U.S. Senate.”

“Ted looks forward to standing side by side with Sen. Cornyn to fight for Texas and to defend liberty and our Constitution,” Drogin added.

Drogin himself is a former Cornyn staffer.

Cornyn is currently the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman and has remained neutral in the Texas primary.

Both of Cruz’s opponents for the Republican nomination, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, said they would support Cornyn in leadership.

Dewhurst spokesman Matt Hirsch fired off a scathing email that both criticized Cruz and defended Cornyn’s honor.

“Ted Cruz is clearly more interested in playing political games within the GOP conference, and in propping up the Washington insider interests financing his campaign, than he is in opposing President Obama,” Hirsch wrote.

“How effective will a Senator be who slurs his GOP colleagues and party activists, including Sen. Cornyn, as ‘graybeards’ and ‘spineless jellyfish’?” he added.

Cruz has made references to “party graybeards” and “spineless jellyfish,” but a source in the Cruz campaign denied that they were specifically directed at Cornyn.

“It is simply Dewhurst campaign spin,” the source said.

Cruz’s reluctance to commit to Cornyn has raised eyebrows in the Lone Star State and in Washington. As the NRSC chairman, Cornyn is a powerful presence within the national party and the Texas delegation.

  Updated 6:55 p.m.
Gillman wrote a post this afternoon elaborating on the context of his interview with Cruz.

He also took issue with the use of the word “presumptuous,” which both Drogin and Cruz used today in their explanations of the original comments, noting that Cruz endorsed Sen. Ron Johnson for vice chairman of the Republican Conference last year.

Roll Call Politics rates this race as Safe Republican.

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