Ahead of Ted Cruz’s expected victory in Wisconsin’s GOP primary Tuesday, Senate Democrats are renewing an old argument that — should he win the Republican nomination — the senator from Texas would be as much of an electoral disaster as Donald Trump.
In a memo to be released Tuesday, the Democratic Senatorial Committee says that Cruz’s agenda and record make him a political poison pill for re-election-seeking GOP senators, who would face the same obstacles with him at the top of the party’s ticket as they would with Trump.
It’s a break from the political committee’s relentless focus on the New York billionaire, who the group has argued is key to unraveling the Republicans’ Senate majority.
The Democratic committee has tried branding the GOP as the “#partyofTrump” while demanding its candidates answer whether they agree with the GOP front-runner’s controversial take on issues ranging from abortion to Muslim immigration.
“Cruz’s out-of-touch brand of obstructionist fringe politics will be yet another obstacle for vulnerable Senate incumbents and candidates across the country and Cruz at the top of the ticket could be just as bad if not worse for the Republicans’ majority status,” the memo read.
Cruz’s supporters have suggested a win in the Badger State would give him new momentum in the presidential primary, boosting his effort to block Trump from clinching the nomination before the Republican National Convention in July.
The timing of the memo suggests Democrats are also cognizant that they might not face Trump in the fall, and are preparing for the reality another candidate might emerge.
Regardless of Tuesday’s outcome, Trump will still maintain a sizable delegate advantage as the primary moves to New York on April 19, where polls suggest he sports a big, early advantage.
Republicans have generally been split on whether Trump or Cruz would make a weaker general election candidate, with some arguing that Trump’s unconventional appeal to blue-collar voters could make him a force in Rust Belt states like Michigan and Ohio.
Recently, however, the front-runner’s string of ever-more-controversial comments — coupled with weak poll numbers when matched up with likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — have led many GOP leaders to conclude Cruz would be a stronger candidate.
One mid-March poll from CNN/ORC found a large split between the two candidates, with Cruz tying Clinton while Trump trails her by 12 points.
The memo digs up old reports about Republicans publicly doubting that Cruz would make a strong candidate, before outlining potential general election weak spots for the senator on everything from his leading role in the government shutdown to his support for defunding Planned Parenthood.
“They will try to run their own races but Cruz will force them to answer for their out-of-touch records – from standing with him to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood to bombastic national security ideas that make our country less safe,” the memo said. “Along the way, voters will come to reject their politics for candidates who will truly represent their interests in the U.S. Senate.”