Ted Cruz is not on the March 4 primary ballot.
But his likeness is all over TV and in campaign materials, as a slew of Republican candidates on the primary ballot are using his words and — in rare occasions — his endorsement to reach out to voters.
This year, having Cruz weigh in any way possible “is political gold,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.
His thumbs up for a candidate serves “as a signal to Cruz’s plethora of supporters within the GOP primary electorate who the ‘true’ movement conservative in the race is,” he said.
And that has made a number of candidates try to link themselves to the state’s junior senator any way possible.
Cruz skyrocketed to national attention in 2012 after defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a battle for U.S. Senate that turned into a classic Tea Party versus establishment Republican, David versus Goliath fight.
He has remained in headlines for constantly criticizing the Obama administration and the healthcare law.