The left dislikes Ted Cruz for obvious reasons. His extreme right-wing views on literally every major issue are diametrically opposed to traditional liberal values.
But Republicans also hate Cruz. Or, to be more specific, Republicans who have had to interact with Cruz in Congress hate him.
North Carolina Senator Richard Burr is one of those guys. The AP published a story today on Republican senators confronting the possibility that their “least-favorite colleague” could become their party’s nominee for president.
Among other things, it reports that Burr, a Republican, recently “told supporters at a campaign fundraiser for his own re-election that he would vote for liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders for president before Cruz, according to one person who attended the event. Burr did not appear to be joking, said the person, who demanded anonymity to discuss the private gathering.”
Well, yeah, of course Sanders is preferable to Cruz. Ted Cruz is a fucking sociopath! But in Republican politics, a socialist is worse than a sociopath. So Burr’s got some explaining to do to his base.
Greg Brannon, a Republican challenging Burr in the upcoming Senate primary race, seized on the story.
“It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he said it, and meant it,” Brannon said in a release. “Richard Burr has long been one of the House of Cards Republicans in Washington, going along with the liberal and socialist programs and policies put forth by Democrats. Of course he would prefer an avowed Socialist to a man like Ted Cruz who has stood up to the Washington Establishment.”
Burr’s camp is now denying the story and demanding a retraction. The AP is holding firm on its account.
New numbers out from PPP today suggest that Burr holds a commanding lead over Brannon in the primary — 55 percent to 10 percent. “The support Brannon got running in the primary against Thom Tillis in 2014 doesn’t appear to be transferable to a bid against Burr this year,” PPP concluded.
After today’s melodrama, though, Burr’s lead seems likely to narrow a bit. For what it’s worth, Burr’s comments — we have little doubt the AP‘s story is accurate — make us like Burr more. But that’s probably not what Burr was going for.