Sadler aims to establish ethos with voters by citing experience

The Texas Tribune

In 2002, state Rep. Paul Sadler of Henderson was one of the most powerful Democrats in the Texas Legislature when he announced he was not running for re-election.

At the time, he was the chairman of the House Public Education Committee and a force that even the state’s governor had learned to be mindful of when it came to anything involving schools.

Ten years later, Sadler, 57, is the unequivocal underdog in his bid for U.S. Senate against Ted Cruz, a rising national star in the Republican Party.

While the U.S. Constitution does not require senators to have experience in elected office, Sadler has made it clear that Texans should demand nothing less from whomever they elect to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is retiring.

Cruz, a lawyer, has never held elected office. For more than five years, he defended Texas in court as the state’s solicitor general. Before that, he was a domestic policy adviser to President George W. Bush. He has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court nine times. He pulled off a political upset in July by defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for his party’s Senate nomination. Last month, he was a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention.

Sadler, who fully expects Cruz and his supporters to outspend him, contends that Cruz’s views are too extreme for Texas. He said Texans usually laugh when he tells them that Cruz wants to eliminate several federal agencies including the Department of Education and the IRS.

“If we in Texas are laughing at the Republican nominee for United States Senate, what do you think the rest of the country is doing?” Sadler said. “We’ve had enough of politicians standing up on the national stage and everybody else laughing at us.”

Texas Democrats have not won a statewide race since 1994. Sadler is hoping to break the streak, though many pundits have written off Cruz’s victory in November as a foregone conclusion.