Start by focusing on Texas

Dear Sen. Cruz,

First, congratulations on winning re-election to the Senate. It’s important to us, because it’s important to Texas, that you succeed at being the best possible representative we can get, so we wish you well and much success over the next six years.

The road back to Washington wasn’t easy, and perhaps that’s as it should be. In a democracy, those who would seek power need to earn it through the beating that is our electoral politics. The dust is settled now, and a clear majority of Texans has determined that you should represent us in the traditions of conservatism that have defined our politics for generations.

We hope that is the way you govern — building legislation that supports a smaller, less costly but effective government that protects our national interests, respects our individual rights and supports all Americans in liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

To do that effectively, we believe you need to take some lessons from this election.

You have to admit, it’s unusual politics in Texas for a Republican senator — a person with national standing — to have to fight as hard as you did to retain his seat against a challenger who was all but unknown outside of El Paso a year ago.

But Beto O’Rourke seized on something a lot of Texans felt: that you were less their representative than your own, that you were less about this state than the state of your party and your political future. And that you were less about leading on one of the most critical issues facing our society today — closing national divisions — than you were about serving your own ambitions.

You did yourself no favors by hopping from your first election to the Senate into the race for the presidency. Perhaps this time around, you will give us more of your focus and set aside ambitions for higher office.

There were promising signals of that in this election cycle. You worked on bipartisan legislation on retirement pay for public workers and releasing information on cold cases from the civil rights era. You’ve also demonstrated greater interest in working more closely with Republican colleagues in ways that suggest you aren’t just going to chase your own agenda at the risk of governing effectively.

During this election, you said many times that tone is important. Remember those words as you return to the capital. We need leaders who will stand up against bullying and belittling, especially when it comes from their own party. We also appreciate that you closed out your campaign saying you are proud to be the son of an immigrant.

That is the sort of senator Texans want. That is the sort of senator who is unlikely to face a tough re-election challenge based on the claim that he can’t get along with others well enough to do the job.