"I want to make sure that we have a good conservative in the White House next January," Dewhurst said in an interview Friday afternoon. "I think that’s Ted Cruz, and I want to support my fellow Texans."
Dewhurst and Cruz battled one another in the 2012 race to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. "That was then and this is now," Dewhurst said, attributing his endorsement to a need for the GOP to unite against frontrunner Donald Trump.
"I just think that we’re in a time right now in which if we don’t come together as Republicans and conservatives, we’re going to be left with a fractured Republican Party that can’t beat a Hillary Clinton," Dewhurst said. "Right now, I’m pushing for us to put our best foot forward."
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“Even though the polls show today that Hillary Clinton beats both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, I believe that Ted’s a far more disciplined candidate — and I should know of what I speak — than Donald Trump," Dewhurst added.
Dewhurst is friendly with Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, through the Houston business community. He said the possibility of an endorsement came up over lunch with her earlier this year.
"I remember telling her, 'Heidi, I’m 100 percent on board with Cruz for President.' Pause. 'Heidi Cruz for President,'" Dewhurst said. "Then I told her, 'I guess it’s a packaged deal, isn’t it?'"
Dewhurst appears to have buried the hatchet with Ted Cruz, who upset Dewhurst in a landslide victory in the 2012 runoff. Reflecting Friday on the contentious race, Dewhurst called Cruz a "good campaigner."
"The U.S. Senate race back in 2012, in which he ran against me, was one in which I was mainly talking about moving the ship of state forward by sticking with my conservative principles and values," Dewhurst said. "And Ted ran an effective campaign by attacking me saying that I was a moderate, in support of state income tax, while neither statement was true, but that was the campaign."
Dewhurst, who failed to win re-election in 2014, gave $2,700, the maximum amount, to Cruz's campaign in January. Two weeks earlier, he gave the same amount to the presidential campaign of Marco Rubio, the U.S. senator from Florida, who dropped out of the race earlier this month.
Dewhurst first voiced his endorsement of Cruz in an interview earlier Friday afternoon with the Dallas/Fort Worth NBC affiliate.