New Poll, Old Speech Confront Dewhurst | KERA News

New Poll, Old Speech Confront Dewhurst

Jul 12, 2012

Less than three weeks before Election Day an independent poll shows Ted Cruz overtaking David Dewhurst in the Republican race for the U.S. Senate.  It comes in the midst of news that previous Dewhurst speeches have been removed from the Internet. 

In the May primary Lt. Governor David Dewhurst finished almost 11 points ahead of attorney Ted Cruz.  But an independent poll conducted this week by Public Policy Polling puts Cruz in the lead.  It says the former solicitor general has surpassed his better funded opponent to capture 49 percent of likely Republican voters compared to Dewhurst’s 44 percent.

Cruz campaign spokesman James Bernsen says the same poll accurately tracked the beginning of Cruz’s growing support during the primary’s early voting.

"The fact that their poll was dead on then and with the same methodology shows the switch has taken place that’s pretty dramatic and important," said Bernsen.

Dewhurst’s campaign manager Jim Bognet dismissed the numbers saying, "It’s a very volatile race.  Polls that come out every other day show different things." 

This week has also forced Dewhurst to clarify his position on one of the most volatile issues in the campaign- a guest worker program for illegal immigrants.

During KERA’s televised debate on June 15 Dewhurst said he has never supported a guest worker program. 

"I don’t support a guest worker program never have until and unless Congress addresses this but after and only after we have secured our border," Dewhurst said.

But the Houston Chronicle linked to the text of a 2007 speech found on the Lieutenant Governor’s state-run website in which Dewhurst stated: “I support a guest worker program for those here today illegally. Labor and skilled workers are critical to our Texas economy.”

After the paper published the story, the link to the speech disappeared. 

A spokesperson in the lieutenant governor's office said Senate officials were ordered to take Dewhurst's speeches off the website and archive them last year.  The spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News that when the 2007 immigration speech appeared officials realized individual Web pages had not been removed and "the links were deactivated." 

The Dewhurst campaign’s Jim Bognet insists Dewhurst hasn’t changed his position.

"Lt. Governor Dewhurst believes we can’t begin to talk about a guest worker program until we get the border under control," said Bognet.  

But Cruz spokesman James Bernsen says the statement is an indication Dewhurst has supported amnesty, which is something that can torpedo a Republican campaign.

"If you say you are supporting a program for people who are here illegally that is amnesty because you are essentially making people who are illegal, legal through that process," said Bognet.

It’s worth noting the Texas Republican Party platform calls for developing a guest worker program for illegal immigrants already here, though the party says it would include restrictions and fines and would not be the same thing as amnesty.