As for the “real change” Ted Cruz said he was looking for, that change has arrived in Washington, and the change is Ted Cruz himself. Almost single-handedly, the freshman Tea Party apostle has upended the clubby U.S. Senate, roiled the tradition-bound GOP, and revolutionized the business of power in the nation’s capital, all thanks to the health-care bill that Cruz, former senator Jim DeMint, and a small army of conservative operatives have essentially made a living out of hating.
"These guys aren't stupid. They can read the votes,” says a veteran Republican operative. “That's why Republicans are so infuriated. Folks know exactly why they're doing this. They are using this issue and misleading conservatives in order to expand their own influence and raise money for themselves."
The biggest actors so far in Defund, Inc. have been Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and the Senate Conservatives Fund, the leadership PAC that Jim DeMint launched as a senator and handed off to his former staff members to run as a conservative super PAC. While Cruz led the defund fight in the Senate this summer, the SCF led a huge parallel fight on the outside, setting up a website, running radio and television ads, robocalls and a direct mail campaign, all designed to raise money from still-hot conservative activists and urge them to sign a petition to tell Congress not to fund the health-care bill when they greenlight funding for the rest of the government.