Cruz is a real contender, but not the best candidate

Daniel Hung

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been underestimated before.

First, in 2012 as a political novice, he defeated then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican primary for the US Senate. Now, as a presidential candidate, some describe him as too extreme to win. However, in a Republican field of 17 serious contenders, Cruz is — by most metrics — outperforming most of his competitors. Since declaring his candidacy, Cruz and his affiliated SuperPACs have raised more than $52.2 million, which is only second to Jeb Bush’s $114.4 million haul in the Republican field. It is also not far behind Hillary Clinton’s $60.6 million.

The caveat is that even if Cruz somehow becomes president, as he well might, he would likely be ineffective. Fundraising is one thing, but Cruz’s incredibly poor relationship with his fellow congresspersons is another.

“A good working relationship with Congress is essential because much that a president needs or wants to do necessarily involves Congress,” said Government Professor Bruce Buchanan.

It is impossible to imagine Cruz working with a Democrat-controlled Congress. And even if Republicans retain their senatorial majority after the 2016 election, Cruz has no working relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), especially after Cruz called him a liar on the senate floor recently. He has also accused colleagues of being part of the “Washington Cartel” — whatever that means.

In fact, the only person Cruz has praised these days is Donald Trump. But like fictional President Frank Underwood from House of Cards, who struggled to enact his policies due to his poor relationship (an understatement) with congress, Cruz would find himself in the same position.

“Cruz has staked out the kind of ultra-conservative issue positions and confrontational style that appeal to his Tea Party base, but not to the Republican party leaders who could facilitate his rise,” Buchanan said. “Thus, none speak of him as a possible VP on the 2016 Republican ticket. This leaves me wondering just how serious he is about getting his hands on the levers of power.”

However, Cruz is not the only candidate with a poor relationship with Congress. Trump would also face this problem. But what Trump has going for him that Cruz doesn’t is that Trump is leading the Republican field by wide margins. If Cruz is serious about becoming president and being a good one, it is time for him to stop demonizing others and start building relationships with members of Congress.

Hung is second-year law student from Brownsville.