McCaul won’t rule out challenging Cruz in 2018

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) says he won't rule out a primary challenge to Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke mulling another Senate run as well as presidential bid Texas senator introduces bill to produce coin honoring Bushes Trump working on labels for 2020 Dems: report MORE (R-Texas) in 2018.

"Like Reagan said, never say never, but it's not something I'm spending a whole lot of time thinking about right now," McCaul told reporters on Wednesday in Austin, according to the Texas Tribune.

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McCaul, who’s chaired the Homeland Security panel since 2013, stressed that he’s currently focused on his reelection to the House and advising Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE on national security. But he acknowledged that “a lot of people” have encouraged him to challenge Cruz for the state’s Senate GOP nomination.

"It's, I think, been sort of organic, an effort to draft, if you will," McCaul said. "But right now I'm really focused on my re-election to the Congress. I'm focused on advising the nominee to regain the White House and also maintaining a majority in the House of Representatives, which is critically important to the nation."

McCaul’s comments are the strongest yet to suggest he’s considering a run against Cruz. Last week, McCaul’s spokesman said the six-term lawmaker was focused on his reelection bid while simultaneously not ruling out challenging Cruz. 

Those comments came after a CNN report that McCaul was under pressure from Cruz critics to run against the incumbent senator. Cruz came under fire after he refused to endorse Trump in his prime-time address at last month's Republican National Committee.

Asked if he was satisfied with Cruz’s Senate performance, McCaul said Cruz has "for the most part spent a lot of time running for president."

"I think he also represents the state of Texas in the Senate," McCaul said. "I think that's an important job as well, and so I think the presidential campaign's over and it's time to — I think governance is important. I think in Washington getting things for the great people of Texas done is an important job."

And asked to clarify if he was suggesting Cruz has prioritized running for president over representing Texas in the Senate, McCaul said, "Again, I think he's been focused on his ambition running for president."

A survey released this week from left-leaning Public Policy Polling found that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry led Cruz in a hypothetical 2018 primary matchup by 9 points. Cruz held a 22-point lead over Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and a 32-point lead over McCaul.