Ted Cruz announces backing of Rick Perry donors, endorsements

Story highlights

  • Cruz on Monday appeared at a news conference with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to announce he has the support of the tea party favorite
  • Cruz announced the support of six big-money donors who previously supported Perry before he became the first Republican to drop out of the race

Washington (CNN)Sen. Ted Cruz on Monday announced Monday the backing of six-big money donors, including a Texas billionaire who previously poured $5 million into Rick Perry's now-defunct presidential effort.

Cruz trumpeted the new donors at a press conference in Houston, stressing that only his campaign has been able to combine the power of small donors and large donors to have a deep run into next year.
The big fish is Darwin Deason, a billionaire who along with Kelcy Warren donated $11 million to pro-Perry outside groups.
    Cruz's camp didn't say how much money the six donors will commit to the Texas senator or his super PAC, which had raised $38 million as of late July. Super PAC officials -- who are not permitted to coordinate with the campaign - did not respond to requests for comment over the weekend about the size of any donations, or whether the biggest donors would be given their own, personalized super PAC, as Deason, Warren and the three biggest Cruz donors have enjoyed previously.
    Cruz's super PAC has been reluctant to spend much of its money so far, emptying very little of its coffers as of this summer. The official campaign also stands in good financial position, having the most cash on hand of any Republican in the field.
    Cruz's campaign also touted the support of Texas business leaders Brint Ryan, Lee Roy, Tandy Mitchell, all of Dallas, and Jim Lee, of Houston.
    Monday's news conference also featured Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, announced he has the support of the tea party favorite.
    "There's only one true conservative to lead our party to victory against the Democrats," Patrick said at the event at Cruz's campaign headquarters in Houston.
    "It's about electing a true conservative who will inspire our base of conservatives across this country like they have not been inspired since Ronald Reagan. ... And that's Ted Cruz," Patrick said.
    Cruz and Patrick have something in common: Both ran underdog campaigns with heavy tea party support to defeat the favored David Dewhurst. Cruz beat Dewhurst in 2012 to win his Senate seat, and Patrick knocked Dewhurst from his incumbent position as lieutenant governor in 2014.
    But in 2012, Patrick endorsed Dewhurst over Cruz, before becoming a Cruz supporter the following year.
    Cruz named Patrick the chairman of his campaign in Texas on Monday and also announced Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton will join Commissioner David Porter as co-chairmen.
    With Perry out of the race, Cruz is the only Texas candidate -- but former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also has deep ties to the state through his family and is competing for support there. Bush rallied with his family, which includes two former presidents in his father and brother, and donors in Houston over the weekend to burnish the campaign.
    Cruz addressed his relationship with the Bush family Monday, saying only nice things but noting that he believes the country needs a change in direction.
    "I think this state continues to respect the Bush family, I certainly do," Cruz said, acknowledging their record of public service and "decency" and noting he met his wife, Heidi, on George W. Bush's campaign.
    "In our house, he'll always be a uniter and not a divider," Cruz jokes. "I think at the same time, Texans have recognized that circumstances have changed."
    Cruz has had strong support in Texas, but is not dominating the race in the state. A September poll from Texas Lyceum had Cruz in second place, at 16%, trailing front-runner Donald Trump's 21%, though the difference was within the margin of error.