One of the biggest names in national Republican politics — and a former candidate for president — is throwing his support behind Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer’s bid for lieutenant governor.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz announced his endorsement of Shafer to supporters on social media and in an email Monday. The 2016 presidential candidate praised the Duluth-based state senator for his commitment to Republican ideals and for how he’s done so far in the race, including leading the Republican field in fundraising and winning GOP straw polls.
“David is an unapologetic conservative and has a strong record of fighting for greater opportunity and more prosperity for all of Georgia from his time serving in the state senate,” Cruz said. “He has also demonstrated his support among Georgia grassroots Republicans in this race by convincingly winning the straw poll conducted at the Georgia Republican Convention.
“I urge all Georgia Republicans to join me today in supporting David’s campaign to be your next lieutenant governor.”
Shafer has been lining up several big name endorsements for his campaign to be the second highest-ranking official in Georgia’s government, but Cruz is the biggest one so far. Other high profile backers of Shafer’s campaign include Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, former U.S. Rep. John Linder and Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.
Shafer said he’s already seeing a benefit from Cruz’s support.
“I am grateful to Ted Cruz for this endorsement,” Shafer said. “Hundreds of Cruz supporters from virtually every part of Georgia have responded to his endorsement by volunteering to help the campaign.”
Although Donald Trump won the presidential primary in Georgia and in Gwinnett last year, Cruz had a strong showing at both the county and state level. He earned nearly 24 percent of the vote statewide, but got nearly 26 percent of the vote in Gwinnett, where no Republican got more than 32.5 percent of the vote in the primary.
Cruz also had an organized team of backers in Gwinnett in late 2015 and during the primary season last year. One of them was Shafer, who endorsed Cruz’s bid to be president last year ahead of Georgia’s presidential primary. He also sat next to Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz, in November 2015 when she visited Lawrenceville to address local Republicans.
At least one of Shafer’s supporters feels he’ll benefit from access to Cruz’s network of supporters in Georgia.
“Ted Cruz has a strong grass roots following in Georgia and his endorsement gives Shafer an army of volunteers,” said state Sen. P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville.