Here's a plea to #NeverTrump voters in Florida and Ohio considering voting for Ted Cruz: Don't do it.
For the past several weeks, the Republican establishment has frantically been looking for someone, anyone, who can stop Donald Trump. And of all the GOP contenders, Cruz has demonstrated that he might — just might — be that person. After all, while Donald Trump has won 15 contests and has 458 delegates, Cruz isn't that far behind, with seven wins and 359 delegates. Marco Rubio has won a measly two. John Kasich is 0-for-24.
But here's the thing: Cruz's success has not inspired a single person who has actually worked with him to join his cause. None of his fellow senators support him. This should concern voters thinking about abandoning Rubio and Kasich to "choose Cruz."
It is important to grasp the monumental brilliance of what Cruz did to bring us to this point. Just three weeks ago — when he finished third in South Carolina — his campaign appeared to be dead. Cruz's entire presidential bid was built on the assumption that evangelical voters would consolidate behind the Texas senator and propel him to dominance in Iowa, South Carolina, and throughout the deep South. Yet the returns from South Carolina — where Cruz finished behind not only Trump, but also Rubio — blew the foundational assumption of Cruz's entire candidacy out of the water. Trump won the evangelicals Cruz desperately needed to succeed. Without them, there appeared to be no path to victory.
Most would have given up. Cruz did not miss a beat. Seemingly overnight, Cruz tore up his old playbook and wrote a new one. Whereas he had been running as the enemy of the Washington establishment, he would henceforth run as its savior. The audacity of the idea remains startling. The way he implemented it is the stuff of political genius.
Yet even in the wake of Cruz's success — and with Rubio taking on water from all sides — Cruz still has not received a single endorsement from any of the 99 men and women who have worked with him in the Senate over the past few years. Republicans thinking of throwing their weight behind Cruz would do well to at least pause and consider this before proceeding.
That Cruz is unpopular amongst his colleagues is, of course, well known. Late last month, Sen. Lindsey Graham (who appears to be among those reconsidering his position) joked, "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you." Cruz's dismal reputation is so established the Cruz campaign embraces it, choosing to wear it as a badge of honor since, according to Cruz, Washington people will do or say anything to get themselves closer to power.
Yet Cruz's own observation — that Washington types love a winner — makes Cruz's lack of support from his colleagues especially damning. Politicians frequently endorse people they barely know for purely political purposes. That the men and women who have worked most closely with him have universally refused to jump on board — even after his remarkable performance over the last two weeks — suggests that Cruz's colleagues' concerns about him go beyond his prickly personality. They must not respect him.
Cruz and the media are busy urging every candidate to clear the way for Cruz to go one on one with Trump. If Rubio and Kasich lose their home states next Tuesday, they will not have a choice — they'll have to drop out.
Before voters in each of these states decide to "choose" Cruz, though, they should ask themselves whether a man whose only accomplishment in Washington is fostering in both his ideological friends and foes a mutual contempt for him as a person can succeed in an office that requires its holder to persuade those very persons to follow him.
After all, a leader with no followers is just a person taking a walk.