Ted Cruz is a Tea Party Latino – a wolf in sheep’s clothing who signals the death of the moderate in the Republican Party.
Ted Cruz is a shining light in a sea of spineless pols who are too quick to compromise and won’t draw a line in the sand to stand up for American values.
Both sentiments, widely echoed in the aftermath of a Cruz victory, which long ago seemed implausible but came into focus during a protracted primary battle with Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, show the flashpoint Cruz represents in a bruised and battered political environment.
“This is not a huge victory for the Latino electorate because he’s not very well known outside of Texas,” says University of New Mexico political scientist Gabriel Sanchez. “Moderates are getting picked off. The moderate camp doesn’t have the same influence they used to and his win is another indicator of that.”
Joshua Trevino, columnist for Texas Monthly, disagrees.
“I don’t think it’s the end of any type of Republican,” Trevino says. “The much lamented death of the moderate has been ongoing every election cycle since 1980.”
Treviño says that nationally, it’s important to look at Cruz’ victory in the context of Republicans like Marco Rubio, Jim Demint, Rand Paul and others who are more libertarian in their views. “Cruz’s victory solidifies the foundation of a Republican party and members who will be in office for a long time.”
In his victory speech, Cruz was quick to make similar pronouncements about what his victory means. “We are witnessing a great awakening,” Cruz said. “Millions of Texans, millions of Americans are rising up to reclaim our country, to defend liberty and to restore the Constitution.”
Sanchez says that while Cruz’s win is “an indicator that the Tea Party has some teeth” and that the wins in 2010 were not a fluke, it won’t necessarily be good news for voters.
“The average voter doesn’t care why things aren’t being done,” Sanchez says. “Being an incumbent used to be huge but now it’s a deficit because there are no policies to point to because of the gridlock. “
Regardless of whether you see Cruz’s win as a ray of hope or an ominous harbinger of things to come, Sanchez says the tide has more than turned.
“Insurgent candidates can rise up because the population is frustrated with incumbents, but at the end of the day what this means is increased polarization on both sides of the aisle.”