The Washington Times - July 21, 2012, 01:01PM

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has been billed the establishment choice in the Texas Republican Senate primary, but it is conservative challenger Ted Cruz who will have the bigger bankroll heading into their July 31 run-off.

Mr. Cruz, the former state solicitor general and a favorite of the state’s tea party activists, had about $1.5 million in cash on hand for the final weeks of the race compared to just $107,343 for Mr. Dewhurst, the Houston Chronicle reported, citing the two campaigns’ July 11 Federal Election Commission filings. In the first ten days of July, Mr. Cruz raised some $522,602 in net donations, more than three times the amount of money Mr. Dewhurst raised.

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The winner of the GOP primary will likely be a strong favorite in November to take the seat of GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is retiring.

Mr. Dewhurst has been endorsed by Gov. Rick Perry, but Mr. Cruz’s insurgent campaign has attracted financial and logistical support from conservative groups around the country. Many see Mr. Cruz, whose father was Cuban-American and who is the first Hispanic to serve as solicitor general in the state, as a rising party star along the lines of Florida freshman U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Mr. Dewhurst finished first in the May 29 multi-candidate primary, but failed to get enough votes to avoid a one-on-one matchup with Mr. Cruz in the run-off. A Public Policy Polling survey earlier this month showed support surging for Mr. Cruz, giving him a 49 percent to 44 percent lead among likely voters.

The Houston Chronicle report noted that Mr. Dewhurst’s money deficit may not be as bad as it seems on paper, as he is likely to draw on his personal fortune, estimated at some $200 million, in the campaign’s final days.

The GOP winner likely will face former state legislator Paul Sadler in November. Mr. Sadler is expected to prevail in the Democratic run-off race at the end of the month against retired schoolteacher and political novice Grady Yarbrough.