By WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press
TEMPLE â€” Republican U.S. Senate candidate and tea party favorite Ted Cruz vowed Saturday that if the primary ends in a runoff between him and Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, â€œwe win this race.â€
Establishment GOP-backed Dewhurst, meanwhile, headed to South Texas for a tea party forum in hopes of solidifying support among grassroots activists who might otherwise support Cruz, the stateâ€™s former Solicitor General â€” and thus help him win Tuesdayâ€™s primary outright.
Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and ex-NFL running back and ESPN announcer Craig James are also vying for the Republican nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Some polls indicate Dewhurst is likely to win a majority of the votes Tuesday, while others suggest that no candidate will get more than 50 percent of the vote, which would force a July 31 runoff between the top-two finishers.
â€œHe knows that if this goes to a runoff, he loses,â€ Cruz said of Dewhurst before about 20 supporters at a barbecue joint in Temple, about 60 miles north of Austin.
His 40-minute address was too early to catch the lunch crowd, but was filled with silent onlookers â€” the heads of deer, wild boar, moose and other big game mounted on the restaurantâ€™s walls.
Cruz subsequently told The Associated Press that â€œin a runoff, the turnout will drop precipitously. It could be as low as a third of the turnout on election day.â€
â€œThe runoff will be dominated by the most motivated and informed primary voters,â€ Cruz said before heading south to campaign in and around Austin and San Antonio.
Two weeks of early voting produced a relatively strong showing before Tuesdayâ€™s election, with 6.87 percent of registered voters casting ballots, according to the Secretary of State.
But it remains to be seen whether the spike in early voting is related to the number of Texans who plan to be out of town for an election thatâ€™s so close to Memorial Day.
Cruzâ€™s fiery tone, which he hopes will excite the most conservative of Republicans, was on display Saturday with retired army photographer John Brady, who said â€œmoderates head to the middle of the road.â€
â€œDo you know what happens in the middle of the road?â€ Brady, 71, asked, grinning. â€œRoadkill.â€
Meanwhile, the lieutenant governor was headed Saturday to Falfurrias for a forum with the Tea Party Coalition of Texas. For weeks, he has said that he hopes to win the nomination Tuesday but has no problem securing it in July.
To read more, visit:Â http://www.theeagle.com/article/20120527/BC0106/120529714/1103/bc20&slId=7
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