Clash of Texas titans: Rick Perry vs. Ted Cruz

If the two ultimately take the plunge, their dynamic would highlight just how far to the right the Republican Party has moved over the past year. As staunchly conservative as Perry is, Cruz could make the longtime governor look like an old-guard member of the GOP’s establishment wing, Texas observers say. For activists furious over Obamacare and enthralled with Cruz’s aggressive approach to taking on Democrats and even moderates of his own party, the freshman senator represents the best hope for the next generation of conservatism.

“What we do know is that what was once Rick Perry’s party is now very clearly Ted Cruz’s,” a Texas GOP operative said…

“To the hard-core conservative activists that form the base of the party, Cruz is the new hero,” the Republican source continued. “That group will always have fondness for Perry, but Perry has been governor since the final days of the Clinton presidency. Perry may still have a better network of supporters in every little corner of the state, but the passion is with Cruz.”

Jim Henson, an Austin-based pollster and the director of the Texas Politics Project, said the contrast between Cruz and Perry could represent a generational divide.

“It’s not hard to conceive of what Ted Cruz’s line of criticism against Perry would be: ‘This is somebody who is the past, a member of the establishment. I’m the future,’” Henson said.