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So, Rick Santorum is out of the race for the Republican nomination.

The writing has been on the wall for the David Dewhurst Senate campaign ever since the Republican gerrymander got tied up in federal courts, delaying Texas's primary -- originally set for the beginning of March -- until late May.  Texas could have done what many states do, and had the Presidential primary and state and local primaries on separate days, but given the cost that would impose on localities, Texas decided to move both primaries back a couple of months.

And that may have spelled doom for the Dewhurst campaign.  Now that Rick Santorum is out of the Republican race, effectively ceding the Presidential nomination to Mitt Romney, Texas's Presidential primary is largely meaningless.

Oh, it's probably a stretch to say that Dewhurst's campaign is cooked.  After all, Dewhurst has a long record of service as Texas's lieutenant governor, and has gobs of money to throw around in an effort to get himself elected to the Senate.  But as the establishment candidate in the race, Dewhurst was always going to be vulnerable to an insurgent challenger, and the insurgent support has coalesced behind former state Solicitor Ted Cruz.

Cruz has raised the money to compete with Dewhurst, and polls show a fairly close race -- though Dewhurst has consistently led the race from the start.  Unfortunately for Dewhurst, Texas is a runoff state, meaning that in order to prevent the race from heading to a runoff (in which Cruz would have an advantage), Dewhurst needs to win a majority of votes in the first round of the primary.  And that's looking less and less likely.

And Santorum's exit from the race may be the death knell for the Dewhurst campaign.  As a candidate with broad appeal, Dewhurst would have benefited from a broad primary electorate -- which now seems unlikely with the Presidential primary rendered meaningless.  A narrow primary electorate helps the Tea Party-backed Cruz, which means that a runoff is almost certain -- advantage, Cruz.

The one potential saving grace for Dewhurst is that Texas has an open primary, so independents and Democrats can cross over and vote in the Republican primary.  While in some states, crossover voters would favor the less electable candidate, in Texas, Democrats aren't likely to put up much of a fight in the Senate race.  So Democrats might prefer the establishment Dewhurst over the Teabagger Cruz, and with President Obama running virtually unopposed for the Democratic nomination, there could be some crossover vote.  Still, it's hard to imagine that too many Democrats actually want David Dewhurst to be their Senator.

So, it's hard to see how the Santorum withdrawal is anything but bad news for David Dewhurst -- and good news for Ted Cruz.  And good news for Ted Cruz is bad news for anybody who's not a card-carrying member of the Tea Party Movement.

Originally posted to Houston Progressive on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 06:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans.

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