Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Dewhurst, Cruz, Cornyn, the Sequel

Ted Cruz makes a point in Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's direction at a January 2012 U.S. Senate debate (American-Statesman photo, Laura Skelding).
Ted Cruz makes a point in Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's direction at a January 2012 U.S. Senate debate (American-Statesman photo, Laura Skelding).

David Dewhurst wants Republicans to remember that his opponent for the party's 2012 Texas U.S. Senate nomination, Ted Cruz, did not endorse Sen. John Cornyn for a leadership post.

As noted in a Houston Chronicle blog post, Cruz this year did not announce his support of Cornyn to be the Republican whip in the Senate.

Dewhurst’s blast reminds us we looked into an earlier Dewhurst claim about the Cruz-Cornyn episode.

In February, Dewhurst, the Texas lieutenant governor, said of Cruz: "How effective will a senator be who slurs his GOP colleagues and party activists, including Sen. (John) Cornyn, as ‘graybeards’ and ‘spineless jellyfish?’"
   
Did Cruz, a lawyer and former Texas solicitor-general, refer to established GOP senators -- all 47 --  in those terms?

Our fact check, posted here and to the right, lays out instances of Cruz mentioning jellyfish.

Cruz spokesman James Bernsen told us then that Cruz never called Cornyn by those names. And when he bemoans "spineless jellyfish," Bernsen said, Cruz is not referring to any senators in particular. "It’s referring to people in the Republican Party in general who are not as committed to conservatism," Bernsen said. "He doesn’t mention individual people like that."
   
Bernsen said in a follow-up email: "Ted has never once stated, suggested, or referred to Sen. Cornyn as anything other than what he is - an honorable and effective public servant who fights for Texas."
   
Our sense was that while Cruz used the terms "spineless jellyfish" and "graybeards" when talking about Republican candidates and conceivably even senators whom he views as insufficiently conservative, it’s less clear that he was talking specifically about Cornyn or any individual senator. We rated Dewhurst’s statement as Half True.

Dewhurst and Cruz are set to face off in a July 31, 2012, runoff. The same day, former state Rep. Paul Sadler and Grady Yarbrough, a retired schoolteacher, are in a runoff for the Democratic Senate nomination. In November, voters will choose a successor to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who did not seek another term.