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The Tea Party Favorite In Texas The Tea Party Favorite In Texas

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The Tea Party Favorite In Texas


Texas Republican Michael Williams delivers remarks at the CPAC annual meeting in 2010.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Most handicappers view Dewhurst as the clear frontrunner in the race. The lieutenant governor has statewide name recognition and a great deal of personal wealth at his disposal.

Williams doesn't seem worried. He said early frontrunners often fizzle out, pointing to the case of former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and his failed 2010 Senate bid. Asked if he thought Dewhurst might - like Crist -- be seen as too moderate by Republican primary voters, Williams said, "Let's just say that I feel real comfortable that there are not voters in this state who don't think I'm conservative enough."

Williams isn't particularly bothered by Dewhurst's expected spending advantage either.

"We will have enough money to be competitive in this race," Williams said. "We saw in the 2010 cycle that the right message, the right messenger and passion among voters and donors will trump raw dollars. We saw that the right messenger with the right message can also generate dollars."

Some help in that regard might come from South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R), whose Senate Conservatives Fund poured money into 2010 Senate races featuring Tea Party-friendly candidates. Before Hutchison's loss to Perry, DeMint had endorsed Williams, and Williams said he has spoken to DeMint about the race within the past month. DeMint has said he is likely to back Williams or Cruz, and Williams said he is hoping to receive the senator's support once again.

Williams is also seeking to join a Senate with no African-American members. If he prevails, Williams would be the first African-American Republican senator since Edward Brooke, the Massachusetts moderate who served from 1967 to 1979. The 2010 election cycle marked a breakthrough for African-Americans in the GOP on the House side. Reps. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Allen West (R-Fla.) became the first black Republican congressmen since the retirement of Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) in 2003.

And Williams is nothing if not confident. Asked if he believes he'll be celebrating on Election Night 2012, Williams did not hesitate: "I have not a single doubt about it."

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