Ted Cruz renews call for unlimited campaign contributions

Cruz wants no limits on political contributions, which would give the rich a lot more voice and influence than the poor and middle class.

Click here to read the full March 15, 2015 story in the Washington Post, which is quoted in part below.

Sen. Ted Cruz said Sunday that eliminating limits on how much money voters can give politicians would give people a greater say in the political process.

The Texas Republican, in New Hampshire courting grassroots support ahead of an expected presidential run, equated the flow of money to the First Amendment right to free speech: It is something that allows voices to be heard and candidates to be supported.

“I believe in free speech and the First Amendment, which means everyone here has a right to speak out in politics as effectively as possible,” Cruz said. “To speak out and make your views known, whether that is standing on a street corner on a soap box, whether that is printing out a yard sign, whether that is spending money to run a radio ad or a TV ad, effectively communicating.”

Cruz introduced legislation last year that would eliminate limits on direct political contributions — rendering super PACs pointless because individuals could give directly to candidates.

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Cruz recounted having “$35 million in nasty attack ads” leveled against him during his Senate run in Texas, but said his opponents had a constitutional right to run the spots.

Ted Cruz President 2016: Texas Senator’s Strengths For Primaries Are His Weaknesses In General Election

This article suggests that Cruz may excite Republican primary voters but his positions will make it hard for him to win the General Election and therefore he will have a tough time raising money from business leaders who so badly want to see a Republican elected President.

Click here to read the full February 12, 2015 article from the International Business Times.

The Republican presidential primary field is shaping up to have about a dozen contenders in 2016, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas may become one of them. But if Cruz decides to mount a campaign, his biggest strength — strong support among conservative, tea party voters – may also be his biggest liability.

ted-cruzWhile he hasn’t yet officially announced a run for president, Cruz has said he is strongly considering it. In October, he made a visit to the Wichita, Kansas, headquarters of the oil billionaire Koch brothers to make the case that Republicans need a grassroots conservative as their nominee in 2016, according to the New York Times. He’s also hired staff in the key early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — a strong signal that he’s serious.

Cruz’s reputation as a uncompromising firebrand who shut down the federal government over Obamacare has made him a hero of the tea party. And these are the kind of voters who are the likeliest to turn out for primaries in 2016.

“If there’s Texas grit, Ted’s got it,” said political consultant Suzanne Bellsynder of the Austin, Texas-based Bellsnynder Group, who worked with Cruz when they were both staffers, he in the state attorney general’s office and she in the Texas state Senate. “He’s one of the people who’s relentless. He’s works hard, he’s smart, he’s not afraid to take on things that are a little bit edgy … and primary voters are looking for that kind of leadership.”

If that is what Republicans are looking for, they don’t know it yet. Cruz is running in the low single digits in the latest polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first caucus and primary states. To improve his standing, he’s going to have to broaden his appeal beyond the tea party, according to Bruce Buchanan, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

“This is an amazingly talented fellow. Tons of energy, but he’s at this moment almost more of a message politician in that he has a point of view but not an extraordinary base of support outside the state of Texas, where he is quite popular,” Buchanan said. “He hasn’t displayed the ability yet nor had the opportunity to display the willingness to build coalitions toward the center right now, and that’s what he’ll have to do to move to a position of greater credibility. The establishment wants to win in 2016, and now he looks like a fringe candidate that sets up for defeat.”

As Cruz considers a 2016 run, the main focus right now is finding donors. Cruz should have no trouble with what Bellsnyder calls “heart donors,” or those who contribute to candidates who align with their political views. But he may struggle with “investment donors” with deep pockets who want a viable candidate.

“They may like him, they may believe in him and what he’s trying to do. But from the donor perspective, they’re making a decision on what’s a good business decision for them,” Bellsnyder said. “In a lot of ways, fundraising is marketing. You have to show people how you’re going to get there.”

Ted Cruz’s turbulent time with Senate GOP campaign committee ends

Click to read the full Jan. 17, 2014 column from the Dallas Morning News.

Just after Sen. Ted Cruz’s election in November 2012, Sen. Mitch McConnell asked him to serve at the Senate GOP’s campaign committee, as vice chairman in charge of grassroots outreach.

It was a classic maneuver in politics: Keep your friends close and your adversaries closer. By making Cruz the leadership liaison to his fellow tea partiers, McConnell — now the Senate majority leader — sought to defang and co-opt him.

“A” for effort. But it didn’t work.

Two years later, Cruz’s turbulent stint at the National Republican Senatorial Committee has ended, as the Washington newspaper The Hill reported Thursday. The group’s new chairman, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, is putting a new team in place. And his aides point out that generally, the chairman and other leaders only serve two years anyway. (Sen. John Cornyn was a recent exception; the Texan served four years as chairman and is now deputy majority leader.)

But it’s also the case that Cruz, for most of the last 18 or 20 months, had been a vice chair in name only. It was more a surprise his name and photo remained on the website all this time than that those were unceremoniously deleted this past week.

Ahead of the 2014 primaries, Cruz sought to recruit and promote like-minded conservatives to run for the Senate. He worked with outside groups such as the Senate Conservatives Fund, which backed not only candidates other than those hand-picked by the GOP’s own committee, but challengers to incumbents — including McConnell himself.

Confronted by his GOP colleagues, Cruz assured them he wouldn’t work directly against any of them. But the tensions were never much of a secret. And Cruz’s willingness to defy party leaders left him somewhat estranged — most notably when he helped instigate the 16-day government shutdown in fall 2013 in a quixotic effort to strip funding for Obamacare.

As the relationship soured, GOP strategists aligned with party leaders grumbled about Cruz.

A standoff ensued. McConnell would have provoked tea party backlash by forcing out Cruz, so he didn’t. Cruz didn’t do much on behalf of the committee, but he kept out of its way.

Last fall, he cut a generous $250,000 campaign check to the committee. He ponied up about $282,000 for online ads on behalf of Republicans in key races. He donated $77,000 directly to some nominees. And he stumped for a half-dozen or so, and not just tea partiers. Most notably, he rallied conservatives to help embattled Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and to help Georgia businessman David Purdue.

Ted Cruz could struggle to raise funds for presidential run

Click here to read the full December 1, 2014 Dallas Morning News article.

Sen. Ted Cruz’s ambitions are clear. He’s a frequent visitor to Iowa and New Hampshire. He’s building a campaign staff.

But to make a serious White House bid takes serious money — at least $20 million by the time the first ballots are cast in early 2016. And that could be a challenge.

Although the Texas Republican is popular at conservative gatherings, Cruz has shown only modest success as a fundraiser. Like Ron Paul and Sarah Palin, he can probably count on showers of cash from enthusiastic legions of small-dollar donors, and that’s an important start.

But many major GOP donors and bundlers want nothing to do with a tea party agitator — particularly business interests dismayed by the federal-spending brinkmanship Cruz has advocated. That could limit his ability to elbow aside well-funded rivals.

“There are very few people I’ve seen inspire the grass roots like Ted Cruz,” said Eytan Laor, a Miami Republican who runs a political action committee that backed about 100 conservative federal candidates this year. But “he has a rap on him from people who don’t know him — the government shutdown, not electable, etc. It’s an issue.”

Much of the party’s donor class is rooting for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or, at the least, waiting to see whether he makes a move.

“The big elephant in the room is Jeb Bush,” said Ray Washburne, a Dallas developer and national finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, who is neutral in the race. “Donors are all waiting to see what Jeb’s move is.”

He added: “You don’t want to be the first mover to Ted Cruz or Rand Paul if Jeb ends up running. Everyone wants to get behind whoever they think is going to win.”

Washburne figures it will take at least $10 million to be viewed as “a legitimate candidate” by the time of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary in early 2016. And $20million would be better. The contest could be over by mid-April, and the nominee likely will be someone who raked in at least $50 million by then, though fundraising tends to snowball for the winner of early contests.

Cruz raised about $15 million in his insurgent Senate run in 2012. That was enough to shove aside Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, with the help of a wave of tea-party support in the GOP primary. Federal campaign records show that in the last two years, he’s raised $7.3 million for his Senate fund; his Jobs Growth and Freedom Fund political action committee; and a “victory” fund that has made transfers to those other entities.

Individual donors, as opposed to political committees, account for two-thirds of the revenue.

As an indication of his drawing power, after his overnight Senate talkathon against the Affordable Care Act last year, Cruz raked in more than $200,000 in a single week. And other help is available: Last month, Cruz’s roommate and debate partner from Princeton, David Panton, created a super PAC that can raise and spend unlimited sums to support a candidate. The group is called Stand for Principle.

Iowa and New Hampshire Have Already Seen Cash From 2016 Contenders

Click here to read the full January 6, 2015 New York Times article.

The next two years are a good time to be a local candidate or party organization in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The political action committees supporting Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton have already started doling out cash to the campaigns of potential supporters in the states with the earliest presidential contests of 2016.

Leadership PACs — like the one Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, will be forming soon — provide a natural vehicle for sending campaign money to state and local candidates and committees in key early presidential states.

Several potential presidential candidates, through their PACs or the committees created to lay the groundwork for them, spent tens of thousands of dollars in the two early states to help candidates in the midterm elections in November. Those efforts will only intensify this year, as attention turns toward building support for 2016.

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Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican senator, has also spent money in the early states. In the final weeks before the midterms, his Jobs, Growth and Freedom Fund gave $22,000 to four Iowa candidates; the Polk County Republican Party; and Liberty Iowa, a conservative state PAC. It made $8,500 in contributions in New Hampshire state elections.