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Eye On Candidates
March 19, 2015

Can Cruz Get Support Beyond the Grassroots?

Senator Ted Cruz has staked out and held firm on conservative views during his time in office, making him a favorite of many Republicans. He’s also stepped on some toes along the way, and CBS News has an interesting piece on what that may mean for a Cruz campaign in 2016:

Will grassroots support be enough for Sen. Ted Cruz in 2016?

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, doesn't have a lot of friends in Washington, and he's proud of it.

"Politics, it ain't beanbag," the freshman firebrand told ABC in 2013, after sustaining heavy criticism from fellow Republicans for his starring role in that year's government shutdown. "I'm not serving in office because I desperately needed 99 new friends in the U.S. Senate."

The shutdown episode, which saw Cruz successfully urge conservatives in both chambers to defy GOP leadership by refusing to back any government spending bill that funded Obamacare, became emblematic of Cruz's time on Capitol Hill. From the moment the conservative firebrand arrived in Washington in 2013, he's feuded with Democrats and Republicans alike, championing a pugnacious brand of conservatism - and a make-no-concessions legislative strategy - that's made him as revered among right-wing activists as he is reviled by parts of the party establishment.

As he eyes a 2016 presidential bid, Cruz is prepared to bring that defiant posture on the campaign trail. He's stepped up his travel to early voting states, visiting both Iowa and New Hampshire within the last two weeks. During public appearances, he's championed an uncompromising stance on every issue animating the conservative base.

Cruz's down-the-line appeal to the GOP base may prove to be his calling card in the primary battle to come, but it's also led him to pick fights with the party brass that could ultimately undermine his candidacy. His ability to raise money, secure endorsements, and build the kind of infrastructure necessary to win a national primary may be hampered by his lack of support among the establishment. And his ideological rigidity has sown doubts among some Republicans about how competitive Cruz would be in a general election…

The whole piece is worth a read and raises some important questions about the tradeoff between ideological purity and electability.