They include the star of Duck Dynasty and advocates for killing abortion doctors and gay people.
The Benham family: In February, Ted Cruz appointed David and Jason Benham, twin brothers and real estate entrepreneurs based in North Carolina, to his campaign’s Religious Liberty Advisory Council. As Mother Jones reported in April, the brothers have been at the forefront of every battle to oppose gay rights in North Carolina in recent years. They’ve opposed gay pride parades and organized anti-abortion protests, and at one point David Benham equated the battle against marriage equality with fighting Nazis. The brothers were most recently instrumental in stoking opposition to a Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance that eventually led to HB 2, the state’s transgender “bathroom bill” that has sparked a national uproar.
Their father, Flip Benham, is a well-known anti-gay and anti-abortion street preacher in Charlotte. In November, Cruz touted Benham’s endorsement in a press release. In 1994, Benham became the director of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, and he later renamed it Operation Save America. He still leads the group. Benham is best known for having helped convert Norma McCorvey—the “Jane Roe” of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion—to fundamentalist Christianity and to renouncing her past support of abortion rights. In 1995, Benham opened the national headquarters of Operation Rescue next door to the Dallas abortion clinic where McCorvey was working at the time as a marketing director. The two struck up a friendship, and when McCorvey eventually converted, Benham performed her baptism.
Troy Newman: After Flip Benham moved and renamed the national Operation Rescue operation, Newman took over its western branch, now based in Wichita, Kansas. In January, Cruz announced his campaign would form a Pro-Lifers for Cruz coalition co-chaired by 10 anti-abortion activists. Newman is one of them. The campaign’s press release announcing the coalition describes Newman as the author of Their Blood Cries Out, a 2000 book in which he wrote that “the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes.”
Last week, after Cruz appeared to be making a play for more women voters by announcing former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina as his running mate, executives from several pro-choice groups wrote an open letter to the Cruz campaign encouraging it to fire Newman from Pro-Lifers for Cruz due to his history. “Troy Newman’s history of violent rhetoric and harassment toward women’s health providers is truly beyond the pale,” they wrote.
Tuesday’s Indiana primary is arguably the final frontier for Ted Cruz to keep alive any prospect of winning the Republican presidential nomination. The poll numbers aren’t looking good for him in the Hoosier State, but he’s holding out hope that Indiana will join several other Midwestern states in rewarding him for his socially conservative record. But in his quest to become the favorite of social conservatives, Cruz has aligned himself with a number of far-right extremists who could cause him trouble in the increasingly unlikely event that he finds himself in a general election battle in November. From the star of Duck Dynasty to activists who advocate executing abortion doctors and gay people, here’s a partial list: