Forget Trump, Ted Cruz May Be the Biggest Loser of the Midterm Elections

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

In the aftermath of a disastrous midterm for Republicans, the blame game has mostly focused on former President Donald Trump’s ongoing ballot box toxicity. But conservatives might also want to cast a more critical eye on the record of another self-styled GOP influencer: Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz put his stamp on more than two dozen GOP candidates this midterm, and it did not go well. Most of them either lost or, with some totals still trickling in, are currently losing.

Cruz focused his support on House races, most specifically 24 of the 25 candidates participating in his “Cruz 25 for 22 Victory Fund” joint fundraising committee. Of the 24 candidates, only nine of them won or are currently ahead in their races. The group features just one of Cruz’s fellow senators, Mike Lee, who won his re-election bid after putting down a surprisingly tough challenge from independent candidate Evan McMullin.

The Cruz-tied “Truth and Courage” super PAC did even worse. The group, which openly aligns with Cruz—to a possibly unlawful degree—only won one of the three races that it funded. That would be the victory Rep.-elect Cory Mills scored over Karen Green in an open seat in Florida.

Ted Cruz’s Weird, Anti-Conservative Posturing on Elections

The other two candidates, New Hampshire’s Karoline Leavitt and Virginia’s Yesli Vega—both of whom cuddled up to far-right figures during their campaigns—lost their elections, in races where Republicans made major investments. And while Leavitt and Vega were also part of Cruz’s “25 for 22” squad, Mills, the super PAC’s one winner, was not a member.

Cruz is also tied to a joint committee for a handful of Senate candidates. That group, “Win the Senate 2022,” counts his leadership PAC alongside Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). Of the five 2022 candidates in the committee, three have won their races: Katie Britt in Alabama, J.D. Vance in Ohio, and Ted Budd in North Carolina. Dr. Mehmet Oz conceded in Pennsylvania and Adam Laxalt lost in Nevada.

And it’s with that record that the outspoken Texas conservative announced—the day after the election—that he would be the first official to make a personal appearance in Georgia for Republican Herschel Walker’s runoff campaign.

For Cruz, it appears to be a newfound enthusiasm. While he did make a previous appearance in Georgia to back Walker, the embattled football legend wasn’t included in Cruz and Cornyn’s joint fundraiser, and no Cruz-tied committees have given Walker any money for the general election, according to available federal campaign finance data.

The move came as advisers and GOP powerbrokers—fearing a repeat of the 2021 Georgia contests where Democrats flipped two seats—were begging Trump to stay away from the runoff, and even delay his anticipated 2024 candidacy announcement until after the race was decided.

Cruz, however, had also injected himself into the 2021 runoffs. Back then, he ran Facebook ads in Georgia asking for donations to help Republicans hold their Senate majority.

Trump’s Candidates Fell on Their Faces. Is This the Final Straw?

“Gun-grabbing, tax hikes, open borders, and stacking the Supreme Court. That’s the radical Democrat agenda if they win the Georgia Senate elections,” Cruz said in the ads, soliciting small-dollar contributions to something he called the “Keep Georgia Red fund.”

Unfortunately for those Georgia GOP candidates, all the money went straight to Ted Cruz, and both Republicans lost.

But it’s not just that Cruz’s candidates have underperformed; he’s also tested the bounds of the law to do it.

A “blatantly cynical” election law troll, Cruz’s political efforts this year have appeared to flout rules designed to wall off candidates from super PACs. The Daily Beast previously reported the astounding coincidental ties between Cruz and the Truth and Courage super PAC, both among the group’s megadonors and its vendors.

Campaign finance law makes it illegal for a candidate to establish, direct, finance, or control a super PAC that raises money in unlimited amounts. And Cruz went so far as to make personal appearances at Truth and Courage fundraising events around the country—one outlet even called it “Cruz’s ‘Truth and Courage PAC’ tour”—raising questions about what exactly he was campaigning for.

The super PAC website promoted its nationwide tour with Cruz, singling out four Senate candidates: Laxalt, Walker, Vance, and Arizona’s Blake Masters. Only Vance won his election.

And earlier this year, Cruz filed some bizarre reports that showed he had turned his own campaign into something of a super PAC, making a series of independent expenditures on behalf of a former staffer, Cassy Garcia—while possibly violating coordination rules. The boost helped push Garcia across the line in her Texas primary.

On Tuesday, Garcia lost the general election to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX).

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