NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Democrats and some Republicans in Congress blame Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his effort to defund Obamacare for the 16 day partial government shutdown.

On Thursday, Senator Cruz’s predecessor, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, didn’t want to mention him by name or even criticize him.

But the former Senator disagreed with the tactics Mr. Cruz and Tea Party Conservatives used during the budget fight. “I think the issue should always have been and still is the debt and the deficits. I think the approach to Obamacare should not close down the government if we don’t defund it, if we know the President would veto that.”

Hutchison says while all Republicans voted against Obamacare, they now need to focus on improving the law, jobs and the economy — while slashing government spending — if they want to succeed in 2014.

“I don’t think people are going to think about the government shutdown in 2014. Remember, we only have one house of Congress. Focus on what we can win.”

But that’s where Senator Cruz sharply disagrees, and again, he called out his fellow Senate Republicans for caving in the budget battle Wednesday. “Had Senate Republicans united and supported House Republicans, the outcome would have been very, very different. What the focus should be in Washington is to listen to the American people.”

UT Arlington Political Science Professor Allan Saxe says all of the criticism hasn’t weakened Senator Cruz – outside Washington. “I would argue that generally, he’s come out in pretty good shape. He not only has the support of the Tea Party, he is the icon of the Tea Party.”

Democrats here in Texas though loathe Senator Cruz.

Professor Saxe says it’s difficult to gauge how the general public in Texas views the freshman Senator.

But he believes the first real test will likely come during next year’s Governor’s race here in the Lone Star State.

He says Democrats may try to tie the Republican frontrunner, Attorney General Greg Abbott to Mr. Cruz.

Republicans have already tied Democrat Wendy Davis to President Obama and what they call his liberal policies.

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