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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Senate runoff in Texas: K Street vs. the Tea Party

You know things have changed when a Texas Republican attacks his primary opponent for being cozy with lobbyists and big-business donors.

The primary runoff for Texas’s open U.S. Senate seat has become another battle along the GOP’s major fault line: the Tea Party vs. K Street.

Former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz is the candidate of the GOP’s Tea Party wing. A poll last week, which found Cruz beating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst 49 percent to 44 percent, showed Cruz dominating 71-26 among voters who identified as Tea Partiers — a bloc including two of every five likely voters polled.

Cruz’s financial support comes from the same sources that funded the 2010 insurgent Senate candidacies of conservative Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah in their primaries against establishment-backed Republicans.

The Club for Growth has spent $2.5 million helping Cruz. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund has put about $773,000 behind Cruz. FreedomWorks is backing Cruz to the tune of $350,000 already, according to data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Dewhurst has pointed to this flood of D.C. money to attack Cruz as the candidate of the Beltway.

Both candidates have their backers in D.C. Cruz’s corner is full of ideological conservatives who have made headaches for the leadership of both parties. Dewhurst’s corner is packed with lobbyists and the political action committees of major corporations.

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