Ted Cruz could have made millions with his crazy 'filibuster'

Tea Partiers have been vocal in their support for the senator from Texas

Ted Cruz
(Image credit: (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite))

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has finally dropped the mic, after a 21-hour marathon that saw the Tea Party darling read from Green Eggs and Ham and do his best Darth Vader impersonation.

It's all part of his effort to oppose Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) intention to bring up a budget bill that Cruz himself supports for a vote, since that would allow Democrats to strip the bill of a provision defunding ObamaCare before sending it back to the House.

Thus his epic, rambling "filibuster" — which, because it doesn't actually stop the Senate from voting, isn't technically a filibuster.

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With many Republicans openly disgusted by the senator's tactics, it's all but certain that Cruz's theatrics will fail. (He, incidentally, compared those Republicans to Nazi appeasers).

What Cruz has gained is a lot of attention and conservative support. Here's Jonathan Weisman at The New York Times:

Phone lines were jammed by Cruz supporters. Emails flew, encouraged by organizations like the Tea Party Patriots and the Heritage Foundation. The Senate Conservative Fund, a group that has been running advertisements attacking Republicans who are not supporting the "defund ObamaCare" effort, called [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell and the No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, "turncoats." [New York Times]

His faux-filibuster raised his profile, which could do wonders for his war chest — or not. Here, the case for and against Cruz reaping a windfall for standing his ground.

Cruz will make millions

The idea that Cruz will cash in on his newfound fame centers around the various conservative groups who are pouring money into the effort to defund ObamaCare.

The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), which started out as former Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) political action committee in 2008, spent more on Cruz in 2012 than any other Republican primary candidate. Cruz has returned the favor by appearing in SCF ads and asking people to join the fight against ObamaCare — something that, conveniently enough, can be achieved with a donation.

In August, the PAC had its best non-election fundraising month ever, raking in $1.5 million. That could leave Cruz set for the future, writes The Daily Beast's Patricia Murphy:

Most importantly, the SCF now has in its possession a massive email list of potential like-minded donors, thanks to the 1.5 million people who signed the defund petition on the Don'tFundObamaCare website. While "a list" may just be a roster in some circles, in the parlance of power and politics, a list is nothing less than a war-chest-in-waiting for the SCF to use on behalf of its allies and against its enemies in the 2014 mid-term elections and the 2016 presidential race.

If anyone is still confused after the ObamaCare funding fight (faux filibuster and all), Ted Cruz is now a 2016 contender and the SCF's biggest ally. [Daily Beast]

Cruz will lose millions

Others point out that while Cruz may be winning the hearts of Tea Party organizations, big-money donors, looking ahead to the presidential election in 2016, might not be as enthused.

"Sure, he's revving up the base, but so did Michele Bachmann and Pat Buchanan," a Republican strategist tells BuzzFeed. "If you're serious about running for president…you need the serious money, more than the direct mail crowd and the small money donors."

That, he says, could be the "difference between winning the Iowa Caucus and winning in a serious state like Florida."

Ultimately, there are "few substantial GOP donors who would support a man so reckless with the party's future," argues Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin. The only ones who benefited from the talkathon were "those fund-raising off his stunt" and "Democrats who can, whatever suits the moment, use Cruz to paint the GOP as the party of destruction."

Raising money for Republican primaries in conservative districts is one thing. But in the contest to become president, donors like a winner. That's why Cruz might want to put away his Darth Vader voice as we get closer to 2016.

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