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Politics

Inside the Texas Chess Game

May 25, 2012

David Dewhurst is hitting Tom Leppert with a negative TV ad ... even though he'd rather face the former Dallas mayor in a runoff, compared to Ted Cruz.

With only four days left until the Republican primary, the frontrunning lieutenant governor is criticizing Leppert for being too liberal in a new TV ad released on Friday. It's the first time Dewhurst has attacked Leppert on TV.

To avoid a runoff on Tuesday, Dewhurst must get 50 percent of the vote. Recent polling shows him hovering right around that number. Running second is Cruz, with Leppert in third.

In one sense, Dewhurst is running in a primary against an entire field, as opposed to one candidate. And politically, Leppert supporters are likelier to vote for Dewhurst than they are to support Cruz. The more competitive Leppert is -- even though he is almost certain to finish third -- in the primary, the less likely it is Dewhurst gets to 50 percent. And that's good news for Cruz, who is likely to finish second. Cruz has the potential to do very well in a low-turnout runoff, which is what a late July election would look like.

So while it made little sense for Dewhurst to attack Leppert at the beginning of the race, it makes perfect sense for him to do it at the end.

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