Last night in Texas, a second place showing by former Lone Star State Solicitor General Ted Cruz is being treated as a major victory for the underdog over establishment favorite Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst even though Dewhurst (who is no moderate, let’s be clear) got the most votes. That’s because under Texas law, a candidate must get at least 50% of the vote to win their party’s nomination. The result sends Dewhurst and Cruz to a July 31st runoff primary, one which will be an uphill battle for the underfunded Cruz, but which will be by no means impossible for him to win. The breakdown of the raw numbers are favorable to Cruz, even though the money and material advantage are clearly with David Dewhurst, who has the backing of Texas Governor and former presidential candidate Rick Perry.
Cruz, however, enjoys major national backing within the conservative movement, having the very public endorsement of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who has new-found clout within the Republican Party after coming so close to upending the eventual nominee, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Cruz also has the aid and comfort of South Carolina’s conservative standard-bearing Republican Senator Jim DeMint. You can bet that Ted Cruz can count on that support and the fundraising potential that goes with it in his uphill runoff fight.
Tennessee has a multi-candidate U.S. Senate Primary scheduled for August 2nd, but you’d never know it when, as we have previously discussed in this space, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) has raised $12.5 million, but all of his opponents combined have not even raised $150,000. Nevertheless, Iraq War veteran Zach Poskevich wants to be Tennessee’s version of Ted Cruz or of Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who upset longtime Republican incumbent Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican U.S. Senate Primary earlier this month. Mourdock, however, is far from being a political unknown. He has been involved in Republican politics for decades in a State that is still seen as heavily Republican-even many Obama backers privately acknowledged that the President’s hair-of-his chin victory in Indiana in 2008 was likely a fluke. Moudock has won Statewide office in the Hoosier State. Ted Cruz has served as the Texas Solicitor General. Many people in their native States know who these men are, and if the average voter didn’t know, lots of folks within the political world of those States were familiar with these people before they ever ran.
It is to Zach Poskevitch’s credit that we can say that he is attempting to boost his own name recognition by touring each Congressional district and making well-planned and organized “whistle stops.” He has an excellent internet presence, and some of the individuals who were involved in Rick Santorum’s presidential primary victory are on board with Poskevitch including Melissa Bohannan, who is acting as Poskevitch’s campaign manager, and Kay White, who represented Santorum at many events throughout the State. Both Richard Mourdock and Ted Cruz got the very public endorsement of Rick Santorum, however, and in both States, nearly all of the remnants of the Santorum campaign machine united to a man or woman behind each candidate. In Indiana, the work of Santorum’s forces was notable, very public, and particularly effective. Because of Santorum’s endorsement of Mourdock, people in Indiana with a very direct tie to the Santorum campaign-such as Santorum’s National Grassroots Coordinator Shelley Ahlersmeyer-were able to use Santorum’s name, influence, and campaign clout in support of Mourdock in the primary campaign’s final days-Poskevich has yet to receive an endorsement from the man who won 91 Tennessee counties in March.
Zach Poskevitch has never held political office, and this writer hadn’t heard of him until February. Most Tennesseans still haven’t heard of him, although certainly many would approve of his ideas and personal platform. Poskevitch’s two real problems are his incredible lack of money and his lack of a political resume in running for such a high profile office in his first run out of the gate. A person doesn’t need to have held office to have a decent political resume, but they do have to be able to show that they’ve done something more for the party than just vote in the primary. Reality is what we deal with in this column, and the reality for Zach Poskevitch is that he needs money in his campaign account that he does not have, and he needs a political resume in two months time that he does not have-the Republican Primary is August 2nd.
This writer has a great deal of respect for what Zach Poskevitch is attempting to do, and the reason is because he knows what it is like to campaign as best you can against the odds and to lose. However, it is from experience that this advice is offered: Should Zach Poskevitch be defeated on August 2nd, he should step back and reassess his strategy and use the experience to his benefit. If he’d like to continue in politics, run for an office he is more likely to win and is easier to raise money and name recognition for, such as county commissioner or, should one come open, a legislative seat. Conservatives need talented young potential leaders to do battle in ways that are more likely to insure that they remain involved for many years to come.