The Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Texas is now within nine points, according to a new poll. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll shows Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst with 40 percent, while his challenger, former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, is at 31 percent. Former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert is in third at 17 percent.
With the the May 29 primary just a week away, Cruz appears to be gaining ground on Dewhurst. He's been aided in his effort to be the conservative alternative to Dewhurst by an endorsement from Sarah Palin, who recently recorded a robocall to Texas voters. "Ted Cruz has defended the Constitution, U.S. sovereignty, and over three million veterans, and he's endorsed by Tea Party Express," Palin says.
Dewhurst, meanwhile, has a new ad featuring Governor Rick Perry, who endorsed his lieutenant last month. Watch that ad below:
The Dewhurst campaign and its surrogates seem to have recognized the Cruz threat in recent weeks, with both Dewhurst and a pro-Dewhurst super PAC airing ads accusing Cruz of not being a true conservative.
But the momentum may be on Cruz's side, not just in the polls but also in the last-minute money game. The Cruz campaign announced late last week that it raised over $542,000 between April 1 and May 9 and has raised $6.1 million overall. Those are slightly higher numbers than Dewhurst's. While Dewhurst has the backing of the Texas Republican establishment, Cruz has garnered support from national and local Tea Party and conservative movement types.
If no candidate wins a majority of the vote on May 29, the race will go to a runoff on July 31. Many observers believe if Cruz can make it to the runoff, he would have the advantage over Dewhurst.