Ted Cruz, King Of Texas
After the late unpleasantness, they don’t much care for Sen. Cruz elsewhere, but in Texas, he’s stronger than ever:
Drivers speeding down a busy highway about 70 miles outside Houston have been greeted with two blunt messages that Bruce Labay put up at his oil field services business. One declared that Mr. Labay was tired of softhearted Republicans, though he used a more colorful adjective. The other read, “We Need More Republicans Like Ted Cruz.”
Mr. Labay, 55, made his signs by sticking 1,200 plastic foam cups, one by one, into the loops of his chain-link fence, a 90-minute project that filled much of the fencing around BL Oilfield Services in the town of El Campo.
“I was proud of him,” Mr. Labay said of the state’s junior senator. “I was proud he was a Texan. I wish they would have held firm, and we’d still be shut down.”
Home states and districts are usually loyal to their senators and representatives in times of political crisis. But the continued support for Mr. Cruz among Texas Republicans illustrates something larger: the cultural and political divide that continues to widen between a red state that President Obama lost by nearly 16 points in the 2012 election and the blue or even purple parts of the country where Mr. Cruz’s tone and tactics have caused outrage and consternation.
“Texas is not America,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican political consultant in Austin and the former spokesman for Mr. Cruz’s Republican predecessor in the Senate, Kay Bailey Hutchison. “It’s in America, but it’s not America. National polls don’t mean anything. Democrats haven’t won a statewide office in Texas since 1994. There are no Peter Kings in Texas.”
A Democratic consultant in Austin once told me that Texas is “America’s Bavaria.” Heh.
UPDATE: Re: the comments, people, calm down. I’m not making fun of Texas. I lived there for six years. I’m married to a native Texan. Two of my three children are native Texans. Jeez, I love Texas! Don’t be so thin-skinned. I love and admire Texans for the same reason I love and admire New Yorkers: they have a powerful sense of place, and of cultural confidence. They believe they live in the best place in America, and don’t mind you knowing it. That produces a lively culture. Are they arrogant? Sure, at times. But I wouldn’t have Texans, or New Yorkers, be any other way. I love distinct places and distinct people. My south Louisiana is the same way, though we aren’t as brassy and as boastful about it as Texans or New Yorkers are. The politics of all three places — NYC, Texas, Louisiana — often frustrate me, but in the end, the virtues of these places are hard to separate from their vices.