Dewhurst, Cruz campaigns knuckle down for race to the finish


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist ROBERT MCMURREY

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

Posted on July 23, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 23 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- They rolled up as soon as the polls opened.

After voting, Texas Governor Rick Perry and David Dewhurst sounded optimistic about the lieutenant governor's chances in Republican primary runoff for Texas' open seat in the U.S. Senate.

"The majority of the voters that weve talked to, the choice is clear. They're going to vote for David Dewhurst," Dewhurst told media gathered Monday outside a polling location in South Austin.

Weighing in on the contentious race, Perry suggested that pro-Cruz campaigns waged by Washington-based super PACs such as Club for Growth are about something else entirely.

"People outside the State of Texas are trying to influence the next [Senate] majority leader. David Dewhurst is for John Cornyn," Perry said, referring to the junior Senator from Texas.

"I think it is very telling that you have that much money flowing in to influence inside Washington politics rather than what’s best for Texas," said Perry.

Dewhurst's GOP opponent Ted Cruz cast his ballot Monday in Houston. Ahead 49 percent to 44 percent in the latest survey by Public Policy Polling, Cruz seems to be building momentum toward the July 31 election.

According to the most recent data available (July 11) from the Federal Election Commission, Cruz's campaign has spent about $7.6 million and has just more than $1.4 million cash on hand. In the same period, the Dewhurst campaign reported it has spent nearly $24.6 million, with $107,343 cash on hand.

As both gear up for a final advertising blitz, KVUE met with PolitiFact Texas editor and Austin-American Statesman political writer W. Gardner Selby to look at some of the boldest claims during what has been a heated campaign.

Selby points first to a claim by the Dewhurst campaign that Ted Cruz ran two organizations that support amnesty for illegal immigrants. His research turned up just one, sort of.

"The group does favor comprehensive immigration reform. It does think that hurdles should be in place for illegal immigrants who are here already to possibly get permanent legal status," said Selby. "That's debatable whether that's amnesty or not, but it's certainly arguably a far cry anyway. So this wasn't just wrong; we found this 'Pants on Fire,' ridiculous.

For Cruz, Selby points to early claims that Dewhurst had endorsed a state income tax. Dewhurst supported a payroll tax which would have taxed businesses, not workers.

"That idea did not pass into law," said Selby. "If you take the next step and say, 'David Dewhurst was promoting a state income tax,' That's just off the wall wrong, ridiculous. 'Pants on Fire.'"

With turnout typically between four and five percent for a runoff, winning is about who can turn out the most. Past totals for runoff voting in Travis County suggest a turnout of around five percent this year would not be surprising.

"It's July," Dewhurst reasoned Monday. "We've never had an election in July that I'm aware of, and so this is completely new. A lot of people are gone. A lot of people are focusing on their families and vacations, and so in a way, we're interrupting them, but this is an important election."

Early voting locations are open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the exception of the Travis County Airport Blvd. Offices. Polls there are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

For polling locations and hours -- CLICK HERE.