In Texas, How Conservative is Enough?

Dallas, Texas
Associated Press + More

For the last nine years, while Republican Rick Perry was becoming Texas' longest serving governor, Dewhurst held the powerful independent office of lieutenant governor, which appoints committees and guides the fate of thousands of bills.

Under Dewhurst, lawmakers limited damages paid in civil and medical malpractice lawsuits, passed a voter identification law, required a 24-hour waiting period and a sonogram before a woman can have an abortion and defined marriage in Texas as between a man and a woman. They also cut public education spending by $4 billion to help balance the budget in 2011.

But Cruz insists he's more conservative. He has been zeroing in on the Republican red-meat issues of restricting federal spending and repealing Obama's health care law, and, unlike Dewhurst, he supports building a wall along the entire Texas-Mexico border. Dewhurst favors using other forms of surveillance in some areas. Cruz asserts that he would take a tougher line against illegal immigration.

Cruz has attracted attention in a party eager to win over more Hispanic voters. The son of a Cuban immigrant father, Cruz was primary editor of the Harvard Law Review and got most of his political seasoning by arguing in front of the state Supreme Court as Texas solicitor general.

Cruz is pinning his hopes on getting into the runoff on July 31, when experts say turnout will be low and activist voters will likely choose the winner.

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