If I had to pick a clear winner for the first quarter of the primary cycle, that winner would be Ted Cruz. Cruz has been able to build an organized argument based on being in the race and being well funded. This has afforded him a powerful momentum that I, quite honestly, wouldn’t have predicted a few months ago. Cruz’s messaging has been up front and based on life, religious liberty, and competent conservative economic change, which makes him an attractive conservative alternative in the race.
However, Cruz isn’t limiting himself to messaging, as he has been deftly utilizing his seat in the Senate to propose practical legislation that matches with his campaign rhetoric. Cruz’s messaging and the proposals backing it up have gained Cruz a practical advantage over Rubio, who has a populist sounding message without a concrete foundation, and Huckabee, who lacks a central argument. During my travels through Texas last month, I witnessed the dramatic degree to which Cruz has been winning the internal fundraising battle in Texas against Rick Perry. That is not to say that those candidates should be dismissed, but it demonstrates that the seriousness of the Cruz campaign hasn’t been matched.
Cruz’s strength as a conservative alternative hasn’t gone unnoticed as he’s been able to attract large donors and will be a force, from a financial perspective at least, moving forward. Cruz has also attracted the attention of several astute figures in the conservative movement, including Bob and Rebecca Mercer, which was a quiet, but nonetheless crucial, early victory. Cruz’s first quarter strength is as undeniable as it is surprising, it and puts him in a position to be a strong contender and conservative alternative.
Frank Cannon is the president of American Principles in Action.