Who saw this coming?
The current front-runner for the next Republican presidential nomination, former President Donald Trump, has recently launched verbal attacks on two prominent GOP Texas lawmakers, including his former ally Senator Ted Cruz.
In a message posted on Truth Social just after midnight, Trump resurrected an old nickname for Cruz—”Lyin’ Ted”—which he frequently used during their 2016 campaign clash in the GOP primaries. This move followed Trump’s customary criticisms of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, his closest rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, who recently faced setbacks with the departure of a key strategist from his super PAC Never Back Down (NBD), Jeff Roe.
Trump’s Tuesday attacks also targeted Texas Representative Chip Roy, a supporter of DeSantis for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, who had opposed Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. In a late Monday Truth Social message, Trump questioned whether any “smart and energetic Republican” had decided to challenge Roy, whom he deemed “very beatable.”
In his Tuesday post targeting Cruz, Trump asserted that the “Ron DeSanctimonious team” had largely abandoned DeSantis’s campaign, experiencing a tumultuous journey as they witnessed the candidate’s decline. Trump took a swipe at Jeff Roe, DeSantis’s former chief strategist, claiming he swiftly left town after significant financial maneuvers on DeSantis’s campaign. Trump also highlighted Roe’s return to Texas to collaborate with Cruz, formerly known as “Lyin’ Ted,” insinuating a revival of their 2016 synergy.
Despite their past alliance, a fissure has emerged in the relationship between Trump and Cruz amid the 2024 race. Cruz, who refused to endorse Trump for re-election over DeSantis, has become a focal point of Trump’s recent critiques. Early in his 2024 campaign, Trump targeted both Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott during an event in Waco, Texas, for not endorsing his candidacy at that time. Since then, Abbott has endorsed Trump’s re-election bid.
Preliminary polling by FiveThirtyEight indicates that Trump maintains a significant lead over other GOP candidates in Texas, with an average of 67 percent voter support as of Tuesday. In contrast, DeSantis is averaging 11.8 percent in the same polls conducted in October and November, positioning Trump as the dominant force in Texas’s Republican landscape.