May 16, 2012 at 6:48 PM CDT - Updated June 27 at 3:42 AM
WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Wednesday that the powerful Club for Growth and other conservative political action committees pouring money into the U.S. Senate race in Texas are spreading lies about him to manipulate the election results.
Dewhurst cast his early ballot with Gov. Rick Perry ahead of the state's May 29 primary. He is in a race with three other major candidates for the Republican nomination to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Some top national conservative groups have branded Dewhurst too moderate and are backing his chief rival, tea party favorite and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz. The anti-tax, Washington-based Club for Growth announced it was doubling its spending on ads to $2 million attacking Dewhurst. FreedomWorks has trained Cruz Volunteers and the national Tea Party Express is also supporting Cruz.
Addressing reporters after casting his ballot at a public library, Dewhurst said, "there's no question that I am the most conservative, both fiscally and socially, lieutenant governor in the history of the state of Texas."
"These outside PACs from Washington have now spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 million saying untrue things about me," Dewhurst said, "and I think the people of Texas are more interested in what Texans think than what a group of self-serving, special-interest individuals in Washington, trying to handpick their U.S. senator by saying nothing but untrue things about my record."
"I'm proud of my record," Dewhurst said. "It's the same record as Governor Perry has."
But when asked what advice he'd give to the person selected by the Texas Senate to succeed him as lieutenant governor should he head to Capitol Hill, Dewhurst said he'd suggest reaching across the legislative aisle: "lead with conservative principles, as I have over the last nine years, and appeal to all the senators, Republicans and Democrat, to their better angels."
The Houston Chronicle and Dallas Morning News endorsed Dewhurst on Wednesday, while the Austin American Statesman endorsed Cruz. The Fort Worth Star Telegram threw its support behind former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. The other senatorial hopeful is former football star and ESPN personality Craig James.
While the governor has stuck by his support for Dewhurst, Perry also has worked hard to bolster his tea party credentials as a fierce fiscal conservative. During an economic address last month, he proposed that all major statewide leaders enter into a compact that would ensure no new taxes or increases to levies already on the books.
The governor was once a brief frontrunner to win the Republican presidential nomination but dropped out of the race in January, two days before the South Carolina primary. He endorsed Romney last month, after former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suspended his campaign.
Perry wouldn't say exactly who he voted for Wednesday, but reaffirmed his new-found support for Romney.
"On a scale of 10, show me as a 10," he said of supporting the former Massachusetts governor.
Perry added that Romney, "understands that government's not the answer to everything," and said of the race for the White House, "this one's not even close. The election may be close, but it shouldn't be."