Cruz Takes Frontrunner Status in Trumpless Debate

This week in Texas politics with the managing editor of the Texas Tribune.

By Emily DonahueJanuary 29, 2016 2:26 pm

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz scored social media points last night when he revealed that debate host Meghan Kelly had called Mr. Trump Voldemort, as in, “he who must not be named.”

That kind of sums up the weird week that was in Texas politics – a little serious and a lot mind boggling. Here to sort it all out is Ayan Mittra, managing editor of the Texas Tribune.

Last night’s debate was noticeably calmer, sans Donald Trump. Ted Cruz was the night’s frontrunner onstage, Mittra says.

“He was a little more of a target,” Mittra says.

At one point, Cruz seemed to threaten walking off the stage, but it didn’t work very well. Mittra says Cruz didn’t do much to “move the dial” at last night’s debate.

“(Cruz) didn’t hurt himself,” he says, “but at the same time he was playing defense quite a bit more than he has in previous debates. With Iowa around the corner, most folks minds are already made up.”

Mittra says nothing will be decided solely by the Iowa caucuses, and most will stay in the race through Super Tuesday, so-called because Texas and 11 other states hold their caucuses and primaries on Tuesday, March 1. Iowa is an important race for Cruz, though, because of the evangelical vote in the state, Mittra says.

“If he comes in second, it’s kind of a hit,” he says.