Ted Cruz will make it official today; he’s running for president. Unofficially, he’s been running since he arrived in Washington in 2013, and probably for much longer (not that there’s anything wrong with this).
Cruz is undervalued, I think, by the pundit-oddsmakers. Most would probably agree that, if Cruz becomes the favorite of the conservative base, he will be a top-tier candidate, if not a co-favorite for the nomination.
As of today, Cruz doesn’t seem like the favorite of the conservative base. That status goes to Scott Walker. But Walker hasn’t shown that he can hold up in debates against forensically gifted candidates like Cruz and Marco Rubio. (To be fair, he hasn’t shown that he can’t).
Should Walker falter, Cruz might well become the base’s preferred candidate. His main advantage over Rubio is obvious — he did not sponsor, or even support, amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Cruz’s main disadvantage is that Republicans of all persuasions want badly to win in 2016. Cruz, who doesn’t exactly ooze warmth and has been vilified by the mainstream media for years, looks to me like the most beatable of the major GOP hopefuls. Rubio may be the least beatable.
It would be a mistake to suppose that, if Walker falters, the race for the base would be a two-candidate affair between Cruz and Rubio, or even a three-candidate affair with Rand Paul thrown in. Someone like Bobby Jindal might replace Walker as the hot GOP governor in the race. In both of the last two cycles we saw more unlikely men make significant, if short-lived, moves towards the top.
As I see it, Cruz is lurking on the fringe of the GOP top tier. And, as English soccer commentators like to say, he is lurking with intent.