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The Brief: Aug. 2, 2012

With the fervor over Ted Cruz's primary victory starting to settle, talk has turned to what to expect from him in Washington.

Ted Cruz supporters at his election night watch party in Houston on July 31, 2012.

The Big Conversation:

With the fervor over Ted Cruz's primary victory starting to settle, talk has turned to what to expect from him in Washington.

Assuming that Cruz in November defeats Democrat Paul Sadler, who faces long odds in a state that hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994, he'll likely be greeted as a star.

As U.S. Sen. John McCain told The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday: "All senators are equal. Some are more equal than others. When you look at someone who represents the state of Texas, they immediately have a certain impact that a state like Texas represents."

But some Republicans may be fretting Cruz's arrival. Propelled to victory in his primary by Tea Party forces, the former state solicitor general will likely side with more-conservative Republican senators like Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky, creating potential trouble for Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate minority leader, who will be working to unite his party. 

Cruz may also find himself at odds with his fellow Texan in the chamber, John Cornyn, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee and who, like McConnell, is concerned more with "majority making," as The Washington Post puts it. During the campaign, Cruz also held off on expressing support for Cornyn's bid for Republican whip.

Democrats may have already sensed Republicans' apprehension. "Mitch McConnell is now going to potentially have a much more Tea Party-oriented caucus, and we have all seen the damage that has done to our ability to govern, to find compromise and to move this county forward in a positive direction," U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Wednesday at a press conference. "So I think it’s more of their problem than ours."

As the Austin American-Statesman reports, a similar dynamic could also play out back in Texas, where observers expect the state Senate to move even farther to the right if four conservative candidates win their races in November, and if Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst returns looking to firm up the conservative credentials he brandished on the campaign trail.

Culled:

  • Ted Cruz's commanding 13-point victory over David Dewhurst on Tuesday has raised the question: What was up with Dewhurst's internal polling? Though Public Policy Polling, an independent firm, showed Cruz with a double-digit lead a few days before the election, the Dewhurst campaign touted internal data showing the lieutenant governor a few points ahead of Cruz. As the Tribune's Hollie O'Connor reports, the firm that conducted the polling for Dewhurst, Baselice & Associates, may have cast too wide a net. "This was a primary runoff in a different environment and one which we haven't seen before," said Mike Baselice, president and CEO of the polling firm. "And it is now apparent that the definite voters were a more accurate reflection of the outcome, and we should have screened out the probable voters."
  • The state of Texas may have found a new — and unlikely — weapon in its fight against federal emissions standards. As the Houston Chronicle reports, lawyers for the state say the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision on federal health care reform could provide Texas with another avenue in challenging the Environmental Protection Agency, which has threatened uncooperative states with certain construction bans. Because the health care decision prohibited the federal government from withholding money from states that choose not to expand their Medicaid rolls, lawyers say, the state could argue that the EPA's actions represent similar encroachment.
  • The mudslinging has already begun in the competitive Congressional District 23 race between incumbent U.S. Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco, R-San Antonio, and Democrat Pete Gallego, who just won his primary against former U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio. Gallego on Wednesday, according to the San Antonio Express-News, called Canseco an "extremist" who has lit "partisan fires" in Washington. Canseco fired back, saying he was "not surprised that radical environmentalist Pete Gallego has already resorted to baseless name calling."

“I would bet $100 that he will be the first Latino governor of Texas."Wayne Slater, the Dallas Morning News senior political writer, to Current TV on San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who this week was named as the keynote speaker for next month's Democratic National Convention

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