A Democrat for Dewhurst

Troy M. Enriquez

Come November, I hope Democrat Paul Sadler will be the new junior U.S. Senator of Texas. Sadler is a self-proclaimed Progressive with a proven track record behind his liberal Democrat label. But, despite my hopes, recent Texas electoral history and the state’s political climate suggest the November election will not send Sadler to Washington, D.C. So, Progressive Democrats should participate in tomorrow’s Republican Primary Runoff between former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. For Progressive Democrats, David Dewhurst is the best option.

Dewhurst publicly affirmed his support for a guest-worker program in 2007. His more recent anti-immigrant rhetoric represents his response to Cruz attacking his conservative credentials – not a surprising shift for an office-seeking candidate. But if Dewhurst is elected to a six-year term and Democrats make significant electoral gains in the nation’s legislative body (likely with the President on the ballot), the Lieutenant Governor’s prior support for immigration reform might re-emerge. In addition, the six-year term will permit Dewhurst to work with President Barack Obama (presuming he wins a second term) on immigration reform, since Dewhurst wouldn’t face re-election until 2018.

Ted Cruz, on the other hand, has not exhibited progressive behavior at all. Cruz will undoubtedly be, as other Tea Party – affiliated candidates have been, loyal to a fault to radical Conservatives.

David F. Prindle, a UT government professor, agrees that Texas Progressives stand not only to have a significant impact in this Republican primary but in the general election as well. Prindle said, “The problem with Progressives is not that they do not exist in Texas. The problem is that they do not go to the polls on election day. Voter turnout in presidential years is about 55 percent in the state; in congressional years it is closer to 30 percent. If the Progressives would go to the polls and vote for Sadler in November, it would not matter which Republican had been nominated.”

But recent Texas electoral history indicates that after the November election, a Republican will likely occupy the seat left open by retiring Republican U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. The outstanding question is whether it will be someone as radical as Cruz, whose Tea Party ties have been well-advertised by his campaign, or a somewhat reasonable moderate Republican who has only turned up the ridiculous Tea Party rhetoric due to being a candidate.

Paul Sadler will have my vote come November, but Dewhurst is my guy tomorrow. Conservatives will certainly come out in November, dousing any hope of a Sadler victory. However, Progressives can capitalize on an increasingly divided Republican primary-runoff and put Dewhurst, rather than Cruz, on the November ballot.

Enriquez is a government and history major from El Paso.