AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Firebrand U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who previously refused to endorse colleague John Cornyn, reversed course Wednesday and formally offered his support after a resounding Cornyn victory in Texas' Republican primary.
Cruz congratulated Cornyn via Facebook, writing "John is a friend and a good man" who he was "proud" to endorse. "He's earned considerable respect in the Senate. We have not agreed on everything, but we have agreed on the vast majority of issues," wrote Cruz, a tea party darling and potential 2016 presidential candidate who has become the most-powerful force in Texas politics. "Together, we're a strong and effective team for Texas."
Asked for his reaction, Cornyn said only "I welcome his support." The Senate's second-ranking Republican, Cornyn is seeking his third term but has been criticized by some grass-roots activists as too willing to moderate his conservative views to move major legislation forward and too cozy with the Washington GOP establishment.
U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, a fierce conservative, tried to unseat Cornyn during Tuesday's primary. Cruz turned some heads when he refused to endorse the state's senior senator, saying he'd likely stay out of all incumbent primaries — though his political action committee gave Cornyn's campaign $2,500.
Cruz later endorsed some candidates in Texas state races, then further fueled speculation of a rift with Cornyn when he refused to say if he'd even vote for him. But Stockman raised little money, campaigned sporadically and was dogged by charges of ethics and campaign finance violations. His bid went so poorly that top Texas tea party activists formally disavowed him — saying he may have run the laziest campaign in state history.
Cornyn easily defeated Stockman and six other, lesser-known primary opponents to secure the Republican nomination and immediately becomes the overwhelming favorite in November. Cruz's post also endorsed two other Republicans he had not formally backed, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's bid for governor and George P. Bush's campaign for land commissioner. Cruz was once Texas solicitor general and Abbott was his boss, while Bush was an early support of Cruz's 2012 Senate campaign.