Ted Cruz reserves the right to campaign against GOP colleagues

The conservative firebrand continues to scoff at party unity

By Elias Isquith

Published February 27, 2014 5:00PM (EST)

  (Reuters/Gary Cameron)
(Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Speaking with No. 1 hack Mike Allen, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz refused on Thursday to refrain from campaigning against incumbent Republicans facing a Tea Party primary challenge.

"What I have said is that I'm likely going to stay out of incumbent Republican primaries," Cruz told Allen. "I haven't put that in concrete. But I am likely going to stay out of incumbent Republican primaries."

Pressed by Allen to explain why he wouldn't "put that in concrete," Cruz gave a terse and vague answer: "Because things can change in politics."

This wasn't the infamously rebellious and ideological senator's only swipe at party unity, however.

When Allen asked Cruz how he felt about his fellow Texas senator, John Cornyn — who is facing a GOP primary against a handful of Tea Party candidates, including Rep. Steve Stockman, this March — Cruz merely said that he "liked" Cornyn. He wouldn't say whether he'd vote for Cornyn in the upcoming primary, demurring, "That's between me and the ballot box."

More from the Huffington Post:

Cruz's comments indicated his willingness to keep open a potentially damaging political option that he has not used so far: wielding his sizable grassroots and fundraising power against an incumbent senator. He has thus far stayed out of the most high-profile 2014 primary race -- between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and challenger Matt Bevin, a businessman. However, Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel told Politico that he had spoken with Cruz about his primary challenge against Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) In addition, Politico reported that Cruz wrote a fundraising letter sent out in January by the Madison Project, a conservative group backing Bevin and McDaniel. Cruz said at the breakfast that the letter had been written last April, before he reportedly told other GOP senators in October that he would stay out of primaries.

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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