Most pundits — including many who hold a right-of-center political perspective — have had little good to say about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz‘s recent fight for Obamacare defunding. But what do the people who helped Cruz win his U.S. Senate seat think? Bloomberg Businessweek asked them.
In Texas, Cruz’s donors say they’re pleased with their investment in the senator who made killing the health-care law an integral piece of his 2012 campaign and who on Oct. 16 panned the budget and debt-ceiling deal because it didn’t gut the law. “He’s doing what he said he would do, and he’s not trying to make friends with Democrats or Republicans,” says donor Dougal Cameron, who owns Cameron Management, a real estate development firm in Houston. “He’s trying to represent the people who sent him up there.”
Unlike the state’s senior senator, Republican John Cornyn, who collects most of his campaign money from employees at Texas-based corporations including ExxonMobil (XOM) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BRK/A), Cruz doesn’t owe his seat to the business community. It was the financial muscle of the Tea Party that propelled the 42-year-old lawyer to victory last year over the Republican Party’s establishment candidate, Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. Cruz’s top donors were two Washington-based activist groups, Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
While Cornyn, the Senate Minority Whip, has railed against the health-care law like others in his party, he wasn’t as insistent as Cruz about defunding it as a condition for keeping the government open. “Ted Cruz doesn’t have to bow down to anybody,” says Anthony Holm, a Texas GOP strategist who advised Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, the state’s most generous Republican donor before he died this year. “The big Texas donors sat out. As a result, they and establishment powers are in a very weak position to influence his efforts now.”