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Inside Washington: June 2, 2012

(Left) Texas Republican Ted Cruz speaks to reporters Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Houston. Cruz placed second behind Lt. Gov. David Dewurst in a field of nine candidates in the Republican primary race for a U.S. Senate seat. Cruz and Dewhurst will square off in a second round of voting July 31. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) (Right) US Senate Republican primary candidate, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst talks to the media on election day, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) (National Journal)


Rarely does winning 34 percent of the vote constitute victory. But it certainly did for Ted Cruz — and the tea party — this week. The U.S. Senate candidate finished a distant second in Texas's Republican primary on Tuesday, but front-runner David Dewhurst failed to reach the 50 percent threshold necessary for an outright victory. The two men will now face each other in a runoff election on July 31. The insurgent Cruz, whose conservative intellectual bona fides have made him a darling of the movement nationwide, might still be the underdog against the well-funded Dewhurst, the state's lieutenant governor. But his showing sent yet another signal that the tea party is a force in GOP primaries.

This year has already brought the defeat of an establishment icon, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, and the unexpected victory of state Sen. Deb Fischer in Nebraska. A Cruz triumph would be just as big a victory for the conservative insurgency — Dewhurst has the vocal backing of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and much of the state's GOP establishment.

Alex Roarty


The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, who have taken a public beating for gelding the laws against political corruption with their Citizens United decision, will have an opportunity to temper (or double down on) the controversial ruling this month. The Court is expected to respond to a ruling by the Montana Supreme Court, which upheld that state's Corrupt Practices Act and its ban on corporate donations. The Montana court reviewed the dangers of corruption and found that the law's modest burden on corporations did not violate their First Amendment rights.

Citizens United struck down the federal ban on corporate contributions but did recognize that in cases of demonstrable corruption, a legislature could take steps "to dispel the appearance or reality of these influences." The Supreme Court can accept or reject the case, summarily reverse the Montana decision, or schedule the case for arguments. In what could be a sign of a renewed bipartisan reform movement, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has joined Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., in a brief defending the Montana ruling. The "new political expenditures have opened the door to quid pro quo corruption," they warn.

John Aloysius Farrell


WOW It was only a matter of time until someone decided to shorten the "war on women," an increasingly common phrase used to describe legislation that targets women's health issues. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., did the inevitable on the House floor this week while debating a bill prohibiting a woman from choosing an abortion because her fetus is female. "This is the continuing Republican war against women — or WOW. I'm like, "˜WOW, why are we continuing to attack women like this?' or, "˜WOW, it's men against women.' "

Laugh a Minute The Federal Reserve Board is establishing an archive in honor of its 100th anniversary, and it wants suggestions from the public. To get the creative juices flowing, the Fed linked to some of its historical materials, including a clip-art-packed pamphlet first published in 1964 titled "Hats the Federal Reserve Wears."

Stiffed President Obama likes to talk about bipartisanship, but only one Republican was spotted at the signing ceremony for the Export-Import Bank reauthorization on Wednesday: Rep Gary Miller of California, who took the stage alongside the president, business leaders, and Democrats. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was busy, according to a spokeswoman.