Two years after his reelection scare and four years removed from a distant second-place finish in the GOP presidential race, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has announced the reignition of his formidable political machine.
The new effort is coined the “Cruz 20 for 20 Victory Fund” and it will support 25 Cruz-vetted conservative congressional members and candidates by fundraising at least $100,000 for each.
The group was originally meant to only be comprised of 20, but the field was expanded after further examination.
While the list spans multiple states, five Texas candidates will receive support from the fund.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21), former chief of staff for Cruz himself and freshman congressman, is the first name on the list. Roy is locked in a closely-watched contest with Democratic challenger Wendy Davis. The matchup pits an outspoken conservative in Roy against a progressive in Davis.
It’s a proxy fight representing the larger debate in the Lone Star State: whether Texas is the haven of conservatism it’s viewed as by many both in and outside of the state or a rapidly-changing hotbed for progressivism that has been emerging in population centers and expanding outward.
In his first year, Roy resembled a fledgling Cruz, picking up the tough issues and taking difficult, but principled, stances on procedural questions — such as forcing Congress to register votes on bills.
Perhaps similar to Cruz, lately, while not abandoning all of that conservative firebrand demeanor, Roy has worked across the aisle to solidify massive policy wins. The most significant of which was his Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, on which he worked with Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN-03).
The bill passed in a near-unanimous vote and provided much-needed flexibility to the rigidly faltering Paycheck Protection Program which provided relief to businesses damaged by closure orders.
The other Texas beneficiaries are all candidates either challenging Democrat incumbents or aiming for open seats. They are Pat Fallon in TX-04, Wesley Hunt in TX-07, August Pfluger in TX-11, and Raul Reyes in TX-23.
Fallon is currently serving as the state senator in Senate District 30, and threw his name in to replace John Ratcliffe, who resigned his position as congressman to take the Director of National Intelligence position in the administration.
The district is heavily Republican but Ratcliffe’s replacement will not have to campaign in a traditional election. Since Ratcliffe had already won his primary, the district’s GOP precinct chairs will select whom to replace him with on the ballot.
A bevy of candidates have jumped into the race, but Fallon is the biggest name in the race. Yet, due to the insider nature of the selection process, that may not carry as much weight as it would with the general electorate.
But should Fallon win, he’ll all-but-assuredly have a smooth path through November.
Hunt, meanwhile, is running to retake the 7th Congressional District for Republicans after Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX-07) flipped in in 2018. He’s managed to secure a $3.1 million commitment from the GOP’s Congressional Leadership Fund for the race as Republicans eye a serious opportunity to retake what they lost.
Pfluger won his primary for Texas’ 11th Congressional District and avoided a runoff while doing so. And he will likely face little opposition in the general as outgoing Congressman Mike Conaway won his 2018 campaign by over 60 points.
Finally, Reyes is locked in a tough runoff against Tony Gonzales who finished first in the primary. Cruz endorsed Reyes on June 30 and now that will be buttressed by the $100,000 commitment he’s seriously benefited by after being outraised by $265,000 by Gonzales this quarter.
The winner will have an uphill battle facing Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones who has $3 million cash-on-hand and no runoff election to worry about.
Cruz spokesman Sam Cooper told the Washington Examiner Wednesday, “It’s clear conservatives need the House, Senate, and the White House in order to get things done. That’s why Sen. Cruz is launching the 20 for 20 victory program to ensure Republicans can win back the House and usher in a new class of conservative leaders into Washington.”
More cynical observers view this effort as a dry-run ahead of a prospective 2024 bid for the White House. If Cruz’s endorsees can perform well in this election, he’ll foreseeably have a bevy of allies in Congress ahead of whatever comes next for his political future.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.