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Tea party drools over Ted Cruz, but can he survive Texas primary?

Ted Cruz is running for the US Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Huchinson, and in many ways he's the ideal tea party candidate. But his best hope Tuesday is to force a runoff. 

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Together, that’s a lot of activist muscle. In comparison, Dewhurst can claim former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, still a renowned GOP figure. But Dewhurt’s endorsement page reads more like the RSVPs for an A-list Austin lobbying shindig than Cruz’s bonfire of national tea party leaders: Texas Oil and Gas PAC, Texas Restaurant Association, Texas Medical Association, Texas State Association of Fire Fighters, etc.

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“It’s clear that Dewhurst and his allies have become desperate to avoid a runoff with Ted Cruz, because they know that David Dewhurst doesn’t come close to comparing with Ted Cruz on the issues,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in announcing the club had spent nearly $2 million on the race earlier this month. “Ted Cruz is a principled conservative who will fight the big-spenders in both parties, while David Dewhurst is an establishment moderate who will fight conservatives in Washington just like he’s done in Austin.”

Completing the trifecta?

Following Richard Mourdock’s landslide Republican primary victory over incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar in Indiana and Deb Fischer’s drubbing of the establishment Republican candidate in Nebraska, tea party groups and the Republican Party’s most conservative activists have two solid chances at increasing their number in the Senate. Cruz would certainly be a third.

The effect of Cruz’s election – strongly likely if he wins the runoff, given Texas’ conservative electorate – would be to swell the number of the GOP’s most unbending, most conservative wing to almost double-digits, or closing in on a quarter of the party caucus.

And from there Cruz and Mourdock, particularly, are of one mind about where the Senate needs to go: less compromise.

“What we need in the Senate is a fighter,” Cruz told a town hall last year. “We don’t need another establishment, career politician that’s going to put his arm around the Democrats and keep compromising in growing the size and spending and power of the federal government.”

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