Updated, 6:09 p.m. The Texas Republican establishment on Sunday came out hard against former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz (R) in his upstart Senate bid.
Nearly every state Senator signed an open letter addressed to “Fellow Texans” that offered a defense of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is running against Cruz in a July 31 GOP primary runoff to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R).
The letter never once mentions Cruz by name. But it makes clear the state Senators’ displeasure with statements he has made on sanctuary cities, state spending, the state’s Transportation Security Administration "Anti-Groping" bill and a state income tax.
Part of the political context of the Senators' defense of Dewhurst is that in his duties as lieutenant governor, he also serves as the president of the Texas Senate. Any criticism leveled at his record could also be interpreted as a knock on the records of each of these state Senators who have worked with him over the years to move legislation.
The one state Senator who did not sign the letter was Brian Birdwell. He opted out, citing a previous commitment to neutrality in the race.
The Republican federal delegation has been much more silent about the race. So far, only Reps. Michael Burgess and Ron Paul have entered the fray. Both have endorsed Cruz.
The winner of the runoff will most likely be the next Senator from Texas. Roll Call rates this race as Safe Republican.
UPDATE: Cruz has personally responded to the letter on his website.
In his "Open Letter to David Dewhurst," Cruz twice accused the lieutenant governor of "hiding behind" supporters. He then point by point countered the issues the state Senators addressed in their letter.
SECOND UPDATE: Also, in his Open Letter to David Dewhurst, Cruz describes the GOP state Senators’ letter as “drafted by a lobbyist for the City of Austin.”
He then links to a screengrab image of software showing the name “Michael Grimes.”
In addition to being posted on his campaign website, the Cruz campaign sent the Cruz letter to his supporter email list.
But Grimes flatly denies he wrote the letter.
“I had absolutely nothing to with this letter," Grimes told Roll Call. "And if the Cruz folks had called me beforehand and asked me, I would have told them, but they didn’t."
Other sources say that the letterhead was designed by a staffer at a consulting firm called The Eppstein Group. Grimes, who is no longer at the firm, once used that computer and the sources say that is how his name surfaced in the computer software.
Grimes does currently lobby on behalf of the city of Austin.
Two staffers working for different state Senators said that their understanding is that the state Senators wrote their letter together. Each staffer said that they were unaware of the letter’s existence until just before it was released to the media on Sunday.
The Cruz campaign had no comment.