Like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas went from being a scathing critic of Donald Trump in 2016 to being a devoted and obsequious sycophant after that. And Trump went from slamming the far-right Texas Republican as "Lyin' Ted Cruz" in 2016 to endorsing his reelection campaign in the 2018 midterms; Trump, never known for his humility, believes that Cruz would have lost that race to Democrat Beto O'Rourke were it not for him.
Trump and Cruz, despite all the bad blood between them in 2016, are generally regarded as allies in the Joe Biden era. But reporter Burgess Everett, in an article published by Politico on April 28, stresses that Trump and Cruz are "on opposing sides" when it comes to some key races in the Rust Belt in the 2022 midterms.
Trump has endorsed Vance over former Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel in Ohio's GOP U.S. Senate primary and Dr. Mehmet Oz over David McCormick in the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Pennsylvania. Those candidates are running for Senate seats being vacated by Republicans who decided not to seek reelection: Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio and Sen. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania.
Cruz, however, has endorsed Mandel and McCormick.
"Cruz endorsed his candidates before Trump — Josh Mandel in Ohio and David McCormick in Pennsylvania — and didn't exactly plan to go toe-to-toe with his 2016 presidential rival," Everett explains. "But Trump's late interventions certainly aren't scaring him off. In fact, Cruz is dropping into Ohio this weekend to try and push Mandel across the finish line just days before the May 3 primary. And he says he'll probably head back to Pennsylvania to bolster McCormick against Oz ahead of the May 17 contest."
Everett adds, "Trump's blessing is boosting Vance and Oz, but both states' Republican primaries are tight enough to be toss-ups. The races amount to a test of whether Trump's attraction to celebrity candidates can sway the GOP base more than Cruz's preference for doctrinaire conservatives. And it's a reminder that before they were allies during Trump's presidency, the two had very different ideas about the direction of the Republican Party."
Interviewed on Wednesday, April 27, Cruz told Politico, "He makes his own endorsement decisions. I had endorsed Mandel well before President Trump got involved."
The far-right Texas senator added that although he hasn't made the same endorsements as Trump in the Ohio and Pennsylvania races, they have made the same endorsements in some others — for example, Trump and Cruz have both endorsed Rep. Ted Budd in North Carolina's Republican U.S. Senate primary.
"Even so," Everett writes, "Cruz's decision to keep working for his candidates opposite Trump is captivating the GOP. Cruz is making clear he's not backing down in Pennsylvania either."
Cruz, discussing Pennsylvania's Senate race, told Politico, "I've already done a couple of events for Dave, and I certainly would anticipate that I may well do more."
Toomey, who was part of the minority of Senate Republicans who voted "guilty" in Trump's second impeachment trial, also discussed Pennsylvania's Senate race with Politico —saying, "People exaggerate the value of political endorsements…. I'm not suggesting (Trump) doesn't have any influence, but I suspect people generally, probably overestimate the value of it. It's definitely not dispositive. It's a boost for Oz, it's a bump for him. But I think it's still a close, competitive race."