Jason Villalba in Capitol Inside: Best Campaign - Primary & General


United States Senator-elect Ted Cruz may have owned the headlines in Texas and beyond during the past six months - but Jason Villalba could be the best thing that happened to the Texas GOP in 2012.

The conservative base that's commonly referred to these days as the tea party flexed unprecedented muscle in the Texas primary and runoff election from which Cruz emerged as the U.S. Senate nominee with a stunning upset victory over Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. But Cruz reminded the Texas political world that he's not the Mexican-American messiah that Republicans will need to remain relevant in Texas in the future when he beat Democrat Paul Sadler in the general election with a smaller slice of the vote than GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney garnered here at the top of the ticket. Villalba - at least - is a step in that direction.

Cruz is a bona fide superstar who has the potential to make a major imprint on the national political scene for years to come. But Texas Republicans know that they must make deeper inroads into the traditional Hispanic vote to keep the Democrats at bay as long as possible and to prevent Democratic domination in the long term. And there's nothing traditional about Cruz, who's a conservative Republican like most Cuban descendants in contrast to most Texas Latinos who trace their roots to Mexico and tend to back Democrats at the ballot box and have shown few signs of being on the verge of breaking this behavior that's culturally induced.

Excerpted from Capitol Inside, November 14, 2012. To view full article, click here (subscription required).  

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