Poor, delusional Ted Cruz.
Cruz has always had a likability problem. Indeed, former Senate majority leader Dob Dole explained in January that “Nobody likes him.” But he is now telling himself that Wisconsin Republicans recognized his greatness. As he bumbled toward the New York primary fight, where polls have him running third, Cruz described his Wisconsin Republican primary success as “a turning point,” Cruz told supporters.
“It is a rallying cry,” Cruz argued. “It is a call from the hard-working men and women of Wisconsin to the people of America: We have a choice.”
Cruz is right that Wisconsin Republican primary voters did call for a choice other than GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
Unfortunately for Cruz, the call was not for his candidacy.
The call was for Paul Ryan.
Yes, yes, Cruz is the candidate who is actually campaigning for the nomination.
Yes, yes, Cruz did win Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary—securing 48 percent of the vote, as compared with 35 percent for Trump.
But Cruz did not run in Wisconsin as the heroic outsider he imagines himself to be. He did not even run as Ted Cruz.
In Wisconsin, the Texan was simply the candidate who filled the empty suit proffered by the #NeverTrump movement that has been organized by the new establishment of the Republican Party in the state. This new establishment, developed over the past six years with massive infusions of out-of-state money from the Koch brothers and other national donors, was never enthusiastic about Trump—not just because the New Yorker’s style is a bad fit for Wisconsin but because his prospects as a November contender in the state appear to be so dismal that he threatens down-ballot Republican contenders.
When he grudgingly endorsed Cruz last month, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham referred to the Texan as “my 15th choice.” That was pretty much the sentiment of Wisconsin Republicans who had expected to be backing Governor Scott Walker’s bid for the Republican nomination in their April 5 primary.
Walker’s candidacy crashed and burned. He was the first real victim of the Trump intervention in Republican politics.