Cruz Finds Support From Senate Hopefuls

Ted Cruz has frustrated GOP senators, but among the party’s potential 2015 freshmen, it’s a different story.

In an image made from the C-Span broadcast Senator Ted Cruz continues to speak on the floor of the U.S. Senate at 5:21 a.m. EDT Wednesday Sept. 25, 2013. Since Tuesday afternoon, Cruz _ with occasional remarks by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and other GOP conservatives _ have controlled the Senate floor and railed against Obamacare. By 5 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Cruz and his allies had spoken for more than 14 hours, the eighth longest since precise record-keeping began in 1900.
National Journal
Scott Bland
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Scott Bland
Sept. 26, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

Some of Sen. Ted Cruz’s GOP col­leagues in Con­gress have grown frus­trated with his tac­tics on de­fund­ing the 2010 health care law. But many of the Re­pub­lic­ans angling to join Cruz in the Sen­ate, es­pe­cially those already serving in Wash­ing­ton and those in com­pet­it­ive primar­ies, have got­ten on board with the plan now most closely as­so­ci­ated with the firebrand Tex­an. From the en­tire GOP field in Geor­gia, to an es­tab­lish­ment can­did­ate in Alaska, to a hand­ful of long-shot chal­lengers run­ning against GOP in­cum­bents, de­fund­ing Obama­care has emerged as the top budget pri­or­ity among the class of po­ten­tial Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate fresh­men of 2015.

The Re­pub­lic­an field to re­place re­tir­ing Sen. Saxby Cham­b­liss, R-Ga., provides the sharpest ex­ample of how Cruz’s ap­proach — to block any ap­pro­pri­ations bill that con­tin­ues fund­ing for Obama­care — has taken hold in GOP Sen­ate primar­ies. Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gin­grey and Jack King­ston all signed the Au­gust let­ter from 80 House Re­pub­lic­ans ur­ging their lead­er­ship not to in­clude fund­ing for the health care law in any new spend­ing bills. (Broun was one of the GOP House mem­bers who crossed the Cap­it­ol to watch some of Cruz’s long floor speech in per­son earli­er this week.) The oth­er ma­jor Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates, Kar­en Han­del and Dav­id Per­due, took the same tack, guar­an­tee­ing that if Geor­gia elects a Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­or in 2014, he or she will be a po­ten­tial Cruz ally on this is­sue.

Not all House Re­pub­lic­ans run­ning for Sen­ate took a spe­cif­ic pro-Cruz stand — though all of them did vote for a GOP con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion that stripped fund­ing from the health care law. Rep. Shel­ley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., de­clined to take a pub­lic po­s­i­tion be­fore the House set its course last week.

But every oth­er House Re­pub­lic­an run­ning for Sen­ate staked out a po­s­i­tion like Cruz’s. Rep. Tom Cot­ton, R-Ark., did not sign the House let­ter, but at the end of Au­gust re­cess, he told loc­al con­ser­vat­ive colum­nist Jason Tol­bert that ty­ing Obama­care delays to fund­ing the rest of the gov­ern­ment was reas­on­able. “If we as a Con­gress pass le­gis­la­tion that funds all the gov­ern­ment ex­cept for parts of Obama­care that are dis­cre­tion­ary en­force­ment mech­an­isms, I think it’s up to the pres­id­ent to say why is he be­ing so stub­born and so re­luct­ant to fund all the gov­ern­ment and its many im­port­ant func­tions … just to hang onto a pro­gram, Obama­care, that he ac­know­ledges is crum­bling be­fore our very eyes,” Cot­ton said. And fresh­man Rep. Steve Daines, who Re­pub­lic­ans ex­pect to carry their flag in Montana’s open Sen­ate seat, signed onto the House let­ter, as did Rep. Bill Cas­sidy, who’s run­ning against Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisi­ana.

The trend of GOP Sen­ate chal­lengers sid­ing with Cruz ex­tends to out­side chal­lengers, es­pe­cially those in com­pet­it­ive primar­ies. On Wed­nes­day, Alaska’s GOP Lt. Gov. Mead Tread­well — who is gen­er­ally con­sidered an es­tab­lish­ment Re­pub­lic­an — told the Daily Caller he would “fully sup­port any at­tempt to de­fund and re­peal Obama­care” and “will stand and work with Sen­at­ors like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee” if he de­feats Sen. Mark Be­gich, D-Alaska, next year. That promp­ted Joe Miller’s cam­paign to chime in, not­ing that the 2010 Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate nom­in­ee had signed the Sen­ate Con­ser­vat­ives Fund pledge to “op­pose any … budget res­ol­u­tion that provides fund­ing to im­ple­ment” any part of Obama­care and ar­guing that Miller was more in line with Cruz and Lee’s wing of the GOP.

Col­or­ado Sen­ate can­did­ates Ken Buck (the 2010 nom­in­ee) and Owen Hill, two of three de­clared can­did­ates to op­pose Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mark Ud­all, have also signed the SCF pledge, as has the likely Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee in Michigan: Terri Lynn Land. On Wed­nes­day, North Car­o­lina state House Speak­er Thom Tillis sent a fun­drais­ing email say­ing he’s pledged to “vote to re­peal, de­fund … and stop Obama­care in any way pos­sible,” as have sev­er­al oth­er GOP can­did­ates to take on Demo­crat­ic Sen. Kay Hagan.

Long-shot can­did­ates are also us­ing the po­s­i­tion to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves from GOP front-run­ners. The most high-pro­file ex­ample is Ken­tucky’s Matt Bev­in, who has also signed onto the SCF pledge, while Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell — like much of the Sen­ate GOP con­fer­ence, even those with primary chal­lengers — has not sup­por­ted Cruz’s ap­proach. Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, a heavy fa­vor­ite to win the state’s open Sen­ate seat, has a host of primary chal­lengers push­ing the Obama­care is­sue, too.

Earli­er this week, Cruz spent a fairly lonely 21 hours speak­ing against fund­ing the law on the Sen­ate floor. But Cruz has a host of po­ten­tial al­lies seek­ing to stand with him in the up­per cham­ber in 2015.

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