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The Brief: July 30, 2012

If the polls, and headlines, are to be believed, Tuesday's runoff looks like Ted Cruz's to lose.

U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz with his daughter at the JW Marriott hotel in Houston on May 29, 2012.

The Big Conversation:

If the polls, and headlines, are to be believed, Tuesday's runoff looks like Ted Cruz's to lose.

According to a Public Policy Polling survey released late Sunday, Cruz leads his opponent, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, comfortably, 52 to 42 percent. Earlier this month, a poll from the same firm showed Cruz leading Dewhurst by 5 points, 49 to 44 percent.

The poll adds to a growing pile of good news for Cruz. On top of strong fundraising numbers, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum traveled to Texas over the weekend to campaign with Cruz. The former state solicitor general also appeared at a large conservative rally in Dallas on Thursday with U.S. Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who expressed support for Cruz.

Not to mention this headline stripped across the home page of Politico on Sunday night: "Tea party’s Cruz looks poised for Texas triumph."

The story reveals that the former solicitor general's rise has caught both campaigns off guard, surprising Cruz aides who "concede privately they never thought it could happen" and Dewhurst's own team, which one insider describes as bogged down by insiders. 

"The campaign has more political consultants than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has singers," said the unnamed Austin-based Republican, "who runs in Dewhurst’s circles," the story says.

The article also highlights the unlikely arc of the Cruz campaign, which went from underdog to major player with the help of grass-roots support and a delayed primary election.

As Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak, who supports Cruz, told Politico: "Dewhurst had every advantage you can have. What Cruz has done to this point was once unthinkable and is now remarkable. He will be an overnight star if he wins, which he is favored to do right now."

The Dewhust campaign, however, insists that it maintains an advantage heading into Tuesday. A Dewhurst campaign internal poll obtained by National Journal shows the lieutenant governor ahead of Cruz by 5 points, 48 to 43 percent. The campaign also attributes the strong early-vote turnout in the runoff to its highly focused effort targeting new voters.

"I know we’re winning the early vote," Dewhurst adviser Dave Carney told Politico.

Culled:

  • The roiling controversy over Chick-fil-A — the fast-food chain whose president recently reasserted the company's opposition to gay marriage — has reached Texas. During her visit to Texas in support of Ted Cruz on Friday, Sarah Palin visited one of the chain's restaurants outside of Houston, tweeting, "Stopped by Chick-fil-A in The Woodlands to support a great business." David Dewhurst will also hold a campaign event today at one of the chain's restaurants in South Austin.
  • At a Hispanic Leadership Program event over the weekend, Gov. Rick Perry refused to knock the state's school finance system. "No, it's not at all," Perry said when asked whether the system — which hundreds of school districts and a variety of interests have sued over — is broken, according to the San Antonio Express-News. State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, chided Perry for his remarks. "I think that's a classic example of our leadership in Texas failing to take our most serious problem seriously," Davis said.
  • The Washington Post has tightened its ethics code after the Texas Observer reported last week that a Post reporter had sent drafts of his story to sources at the University of Texas at Austin before the article was published. Post staff members last week received a memo relaying a policy effectively prohibiting the practice of sharing entire drafts. Patrick B. Pexton, the Post's ombudsman, also chimed in over the weekend, writing, "To give one source some extra leverage, some extra review power, weakens us as journalists. It flirts with self-censorship, and it surrenders control of this sacrosanct process of getting at the truth." 

"You know who gave me these boots? Your governor. At least in that one case he made a good decision."Sarah Palin during her appearance at a Ted Cruz rally on Friday

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