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In a piece published today in the Texas Observer, Justin Miller details how Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign for reelection has taken an ugly turn since Congressman Beto O’Rourke has narrowed the incumbent’s lead in the polls.
Below is an excerpt from Justin Miller’s piece in the Texas Observer. Find the piece in its entirety here.
Cruz’s re-election bid hinges on sowing fear of a radicalized left descending upon Texas — and he’s animating that threat with portrayals of violent immigrants and unprotected borders, an opposition party filled with vengeful socialists and an opponent hellbent on exploiting racial divisions. It’s a modern appropriation of the Southern strategy, customized for the Trump era. It’s not new, it’s not sophisticated and it’s certainly not pretty.
In September, Cruz warned that liberals want to Californize the Lone Star State, “right down to tofu and silicon and dyed hair.” When PETA activists offered up barbecued tofu outside one of his events, Cruz joked that if O’Rourke won, he would ban meat. He has said that the media thinks Texas is “a state of pajama boys” — that is, effete liberal beta males — and described the divide in the country as neatly split between “GQ America” and “Field & Stream America.”
But as the buzz around O’Rourke intensified over the summer, backed up by a series of tightening polls, it became clear that Texas tropes wouldn’t be enough for Cruz to wake up his base. It was time to pull out the right-wing smelling salts.
Mario Carrillo, State Director of America’s Voice Texas, issued the following statement:
Sen. Cruz’s campaign is tapping into his base’s worst fears by following the Trump playbook. With little to show during his time in the Senate, Cruz has resorted to demonizing immigrants in television ads, and stoking fear among White people in Texas by highlighting O’Rourke’s campaign stop at a Black church to speak out against the police officer who walked into the wrong apartment and shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed Black man in his own home.
“Cruz’s strategy is to divide and distract Texans. On the other hand, O’Rourke’s campaign has been inspirational. He’s also made up a lot of ground in polls with only weeks to go before the first votes are cast, which means Cruz’s campaign will continue its spiral of fear-mongering. Texans are tired of the politics of fear drummed up by Sen. Cruz and instead want politicians to uplift the diversity of Texas, and the value that we treat everyone with dignity, regardless of who they are or where they come from.