Today, Ted Cruz was asked again whether he endorses John Cornyn for re-election. Cruz again declined to endorse his Texas Senate colleague.
Cruz’s explanation, at least as reported by Politico, wasn’t impressive. Cruz said, “I think it is very likely I’m going to stay out of all incumbent runs.” But why? Does he disfavor the reelection of every single Republican incumbent? Or is he simply indifferent about the composition of the Republican caucus?
Cruz says he’s staying out because getting involved is too “Washington”:
You’d mentioned a minute ago, the typical thing in Washington to do would be to endorse every Republican. And frankly, I feel I owe a commitment to the men and women all across Texas. I think every incumbent owes it to the grassroots activists of their state to make the case why he or she should be reelected.
If I went to Washington and became just another Washington politician who immediately endorses every incumbent, I think I’d be breaking faith with the men and women who worked very hard to elect me.
This makes no sense. No one suggests that Cruz should endorse every Republican incumbent. And a Cruz endorsement wouldn’t mean that an incumbent no longer has to make a case for reelection. Even the version of Cruz presented to us by his fiercest critics wouldn’t be egotistical enough to attach that much significance to his endorsement.
Keep in mind too that Rand Paul has endorsed his home state Republican Senator, Mitch McConnell. Does Cruz believe that Paul has betrayed his constituents and become “just another Washington politician”? I don’t; do you?
Turning to Cornyn specifically, Cruz employed the same nonsensical dodge. He claimed that he “likes and respects” Cornyn and is “honored to serve with him.” But Cruz added that “Texans are perfectly capable of assessing every elected official, assessing our record.”
True, but irrelevant to the question of an endorsement. Texans were capable of assessing Cruz when he ran for the Senate. They were also capable of assessing his opponent, the State’s second highest elected official. Nonetheless, the assessments of folks who possessed particular knowledge about the two candidates were welcome. Cruz has particular knowledge of Cornyn’s performance; indeed, it’s doubtful that anyone has better, more relevant knowledge about a Senator than his colleague from the same state.
I’m not saying that Cruz is obligated to endorse John Cornyn or anyone else. Cornyn does have a strong conservative record. ACU gives him a lifetime rating of 93 percent. The National Journal rated him as the second most conservative member of the Senate in 2012, behind James Risch but ahead of Jim DeMint, Rand Paul and Mike Lee (which may be overstating the case).
But in 2013, Cornyn was too receptive, in my view and perhaps in Cruz’s, to comprehensive immigration reform. And, of course, Cornyn has not stood with Cruz in his showdown with Democrats over defunding Obamacare.
If Cruz thinks that Cornyn’s record is insufficiently conservative or that his performance falls short in some other respect of justifying his re-election, he should say so. If he thinks that Çornyn should be reelected, he should say that. If he isn’t sure or has no opinion, he should say that.
What Cruz shouldn’t do is indulge in doubletalk. His little dance around the issue makes him sound like just another Washington politician who is too full of himself.