Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Calling Dewhurst a moderate

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst pauses while speaking at a campaign event at the VFW post in Grand Prairie, July 19, 2012. He was speaking about the service of his father in World War II. (AP Photo.)
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst pauses while speaking at a campaign event at the VFW post in Grand Prairie, July 19, 2012. He was speaking about the service of his father in World War II. (AP Photo.)

A Club for Growth super-PAC calls Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz a "champion fighter" in a radio ad titled "Mud," while saying his July 2012 runoff foe, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, has advocated a wage tax and more spending.

The super-PAC ad’s narrator says: "It’s no wonder every major newspaper in Texas calls Dewhurst a moderate."

We’ve poked into various tax-and-spending claims about Dewhurst. Dewhurst once supported a payroll tax though none made it into law. Contrary to Cruz claims, Dewhurst has never advocated a state income tax and has presided over cuts in state budgets. (See those checks to the right.)

And it turns out the claim that every major Texas newspaper "calls Dewhurst a moderate" has an element of truth, but ignores critical facts that would deliver an accurate impression.

In this fact check, we recap the handful of times that the state's five major newspapers linked Dewhurst with "moderate," concluding that all but once since 2003, such references were made in editorial, opinion or commentary contexts, and usually to say that Dewhurst had been more moderate than another leader or to hope that he would show moderation.

The single relevant straight-news reference to Dewhurst in this fashion says he was initially viewed as a conservative, though as more moderate than then-House Speaker Tom Craddick. That story also says Dewhurst had since advocated more GOP-backed causes and been seen as more partisan.

Broadly, it's our sense that saying that every major Texas daily "calls" Dewhurst a moderate leaves the flawed impression the newspapers have all done so routinely or lately and always without qualifying the descriptive. The statement came out Mostly False.