Cruz Wins Support of Former Rubio Backers in Texas

Republican presidential candidates and U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Republican presidential candidates and U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

A day after Marco Rubio dropped out of the race for the White House, most of his top backers in Texas threw their support to Ted Cruz.

State Reps. James Frank of Wichita Falls and Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs, both Republicans, said Wednesday afternoon they plan to help out in whatever way possible to help elect Cruz, Texas' junior U.S. senator. 

"I’m definitely planning on backing Sen. Cruz at this point," Frank said. "I think honestly both Rubio and Cruz are very similar on the vast majority of issues."

Frank and Isaac were among five current and former elected officials who co-chaired Rubio's campaign in Texas. A third state representative who co-chaired Rubio's efforts in Texas, Larry Gonzales of Round Rock, did not return calls Wednesday afternoon.

 

Rubio announced Tuesday night he was suspending his campaign after losing to billionaire Donald Trump in Rubio's home state of Florida. 

Five other Texas lawmakers — all Republicans in the Texas House — had publicly supported Rubio. Three said Wednesday that they are now also backing Cruz: Myra Crownover of Denton, Gilbert Peńa of Pasadena and Jason Villalba of Dallas. 

“He was always a close second for me,” Villalba said of Cruz Wednesday.

Peńa agreed that Cruz is the next best choice to "pull the party together," adding that Trump is “alienating way too many people” and that Republicans can’t afford to lose the election. Yet he also professed some lingering concerns about Cruz's electability.

“I felt that Cruz was a little bit too much to the right and I thought that Marco Rubio was a little more of a traditional Republican and that he could unite the party a lot better,” Peńa said. “But unfortunately [Rubio] wasn’t able to convince the people that he was the best choice on the ballot.”

State Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, another Rubio endorser in the Legislature, said she has no immediate plans to get behind another candidate.

"There's no one I really like with Rubio out," Harless said. "I'm just going to wait and see what happens."

State Rep. Rick Galindo, R-San Antonio, the eighth member of the Texas House who had backed Rubio, will probably endorse one of the remaining presidential candidates at some point but wasn't ready to commit just yet, according to his consultant, Kelton Morgan.

Also Wednesday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who had previously endorsed Rubio, confirmed to reporters in South Carolina that she was now supporting Cruz.

"I do see a path for him because I think he's been solid and strong the entire way," Haley said of Cruz.

Jamie Lovegrove and Jordan Rudner contributed to this report. 

 

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