State Sen. Dan Patrick, who hosts a conservative radio show out of Houston, could still challenge Cruz for Tea Party support in the race. But Patrick hasn't said much about his intentions since announcing the formation of an exploratory committee earlier this month. Some political observers have speculated that he might forego a Senate bid and possibly turn his attention toward a gubernatorial run in 2014. The wildcard in the race may be former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. Despite taking strong conservative stances on most issues since kicking off his campaign, many grassroots activists in Texas view Leppert as too moderate. A Dewhurst candidacy could harm Leppert's chances the more than any other candidate by capturing the support of the state's Republican establishment. But Leppert remains a factor thanks to his strong fundraising capabilities. Leppert posted the highest fundraising total in the first quarter, raising $1.1 million, and the former businessman, like Dewhurst, has the personal wealth to partially finance his own campaign. The fundraising numbers for the second quarter, which comes to a close Thursday, will provide the next key test in the race. A strong showing from Cruz, who solicited donations Tuesday as part of a final 72 hour push, would reinforce the notion that he can raise the necessary cash to accompany his budding conservative stardom. Leppert needs another impressive quarter to reassert his relevancy in the race with Cruz gaining momentum and Dewhurst inching closer to officially entering the contest. Both candidates would be well served to put themselves in as strong positions as possible before Dewhurst's candidacy becomes official.
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