As you may recall, tea-bagging former solicitor general Ted Cruz has repeatedly attacked former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert for twice appearing in the city’s gay Pride parade. Cruz and Leppert are battling for second place and a spot in a runoff alongside Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
In the past, Leppert has defended his decision to appear at Pride by saying he was merely doing what Jesus would do — embracing all groups. But now it looks like Leppert has dropped the peaceful, Christ-like approach and is acting more like the pissed-off God from the Old Testament.
According to WFAA’s Brad Watson, in a segment recorded for Sunday’s Inside Texas Politics, Leppert returned Cruz’s anti-gay fire by slamming the former solicitor general for accepting a quarter-million dollars from gay Republican donor Peter Thiel while raising money for an aborted campaign for attorney general in 2009. Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, is also the top donor to the national gay conservative group GOProud.
Cruz cited a 2003 Beaumont case of two gay men joined by civil union in another state who wanted a divorce that he worked on in the state attorney general’s office.
“I’m the only one here today that has a proven record of actually standing up fighting for traditional marriage,” he said.
But Leppert accused Cruz of hypocrisy and taking credit for decisions actually made by Attorney General Greg Abbott.
“Now that was a case that they weren’t in charge of, but then what they fail to tell you is, in an aborted run for attorney general, they received a quarter-of-a-million dollars from the gay activist who was leading the fight for gay marriage in California.”
Texas campaign finance records show Cruz took a total of $251,220 from magnate and gay activist Peter Thiel in 2009 while raising money for a run as state attorney general.
Cruz didn’t directly respond to the donation charge but did fire back, “Both Tom Leppert and David Dewhurst talk a good game, but both of them have raised taxes.”
While Leppert’s attempt to turn the anti-gay tables on Cruz is an interesting strategy, it could also be viewed as hypocritical. Let’s not forget that in addition to appearing at Pride as mayor, Leppert hired an openly gay chief of staff and regularly schmoozed with gay Republicans himself. The above photo shows Leppert at a 2009 holiday party at the home of Rob Schlein, who then headed the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans and now heads the local GOProud affiliate.
However, both Cruz and Leppert know that in a statewide Texas GOP primary, anti-gay rhetoric stills plays well with voters. So it isn’t surprising that we’re seeing another round of it before early voting begins Monday, especially in the wake of President Barack Obama’s decision to come out in support of same-sex marriage.
Watch a video clip of the exchange between Leppert and Cruz below. The full Inside Texas Politics airs at 9 a.m. Sunday.