I have not had as much of a chance to focus on the Texas Senate primary as I would have liked.  My inclination was to back Ted Cruz early on, but I just didn’t have the time to do the research.  But I have been following the race, listening to Cruz’s interviews, and learning as much as I could over the past couple of months as time allowed.

Cruz has been working hard as an insurgent candidate, similar to what Richard Mourdock did in Indiana.  David Dewhurst is not an incumbent, but he’s the establishment candidate and has far more money than Cruz.

But unlike Lugar, there’s no reason that I have seen to think Dewhurst would be  a Lugar in the Senate.  The race is not, in my view, an anti-Dewhurst narrative.

We need someone who will be a solid conservative leader in the Senate and the party, someone who will fight hard for principle, and who has the history to give us comfort.  From everything I have seen, Cruz has the leadership qualities needed to distinguish between two conservative candidates.

Sound-bite:  “It’s the leadership.”

The gap is closing, with Dewhurst’s lead down to single digits.  As we saw in the Mourdock-Lugar race, when the electoral dam breaks, it breaks big.  And the momentum appears to be with Cruz, at least enough to force a run-off election:

Texas’ Republican primary for U.S. Senate is close — and could be headed for a July 31 runoff — with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst holding a single-digit lead over former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.

Dewhurst had the support of 40 percent of likely voters, followed by Cruz at 31 percent. Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert had 17 percent and broadcaster and former football player Craig James was at 4 percent, with five other GOP candidates bringing up the rear.

Daron Shaw, a UT-Austin government professor and co-director of the poll, said Cruz has been able to position himself to the right of the lieutenant governor for a May 29 Republican primary where that’s a big advantage — and he’s done that in a year in which insurgent candidates have been scoring big wins against establishment Republicans.

At a minimum, let the two face off in a run-off election.  If I could vote, I’d vote for Ted Cruz.