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Texas race mirrors primary in Indiana

Late surge by GOP upstart seen


Indiana’s primary election is regarded as a model for today’s U.S. Senate primary runoff in Texas.

Various media and bloggers have compared the Republican contest in the Lone Star State to the May 8 GOP match between Hoosiers Richard Mourdock and Sen. Richard Lugar.

Tea party favorite Ted Cruz, a Houston lawyer, is running against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, is not seeking re-election.

Cruz’s campaign has been likened to that of Mourdock, the Indiana primary winner. Both have been bolstered by the national conservative groups Club for Growth and FreedomWorks in their battles against better-funded and better-known Republican candidates.

“What is very similar are the usual suspects on each side,” IPFW political scientist Michael Wolf wrote in an email. “You have nationally known Republican governors endorsing the Republican-establishment candidates along with many other national Republicans on the one side. On the other side you have the tea party-backed candidates who are supported by Senator Jim DeMint, Sarah Palin and others.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is pulling for Dewhurst; Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels endorsed Lugar, his former boss.

Mourdock, Cruz, South Carolina’s DeMint and 2008 vice presidential hopeful Palin spoke at a FreedomWorks rally last week in Dallas.

Whether the Texas election boosts Mourdock’s profile in Indiana remains to be seen. The current state treasurer faces Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, in the Nov. 6 general election for Lugar’s Senate seat.

“ … (I)t’s doubtful that any Indiana voters care about a Senate race in Texas, even if it may be similar to the GOP race in Indiana,” Kyle Kondik, a political analyst for the University of Virginia, said in an email. “The key difference between the two races is that the Texas primary winner is basically assured of being elected in the fall, where Mourdock is favored – but not guaranteed – to win in November.”

Wolf said, “Most organizations have Indiana leaning Republican and Texas will go Republican, but Richard Lugar would have the race locked up by now.”

There are other differences. As a state officeholder, Dewhurst avoids the Washington-insider reputation that hurt six-term incumbent Lugar, Kondik pointed out.

The Cruz-Dewhurst race is far more expensive, too. The Texas candidates have combined to raise $36 million, more than four times what Lugar and Mourdock collected.

Dewhurst has lent his campaign $19 million, according to media reports.

A recent independent poll of GOP voters put Cruz 10 percentage points ahead of Dewhurst.

“While not a perfect analogy, this would mirror the late surge Richard Mourdock showed against Richard Lugar in the final week of the primary,” William Jacobson, an associate professor at Cornell Law School, wrote Sunday in his Legal Insurrection blog.

An independent poll showed Mourdock leading Lugar by 10 percentage points days before their primary. Mourdock ended up winning by 21 points.