Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2012, term expires 2018, 1st term.

Born: December 22, 1970, Calgary, Canada

Home: Houston

Education: Princeton University, B.A., 1992; Harvard, J.D., 1995

Professional Career: Clerk, U.S. Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig, 1995; clerk, Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, 1996; lawyer, Cooper, Carvin & Rosenthal, 1997-99; domestic policy adviser, Bush-Cheney campaign, 1999-2000; associate deputy U.S. attorney general, 2001; policy-planning office director, Federal Trade Commission, 2001-02; Texas solicitor general, 2003-08; lawyer, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, 2008-12.  

Ethnicity: Hispanic/Latino

Religion: Southern Baptist

Family: Married (Heidi Cruz) , 2 children

Cuban-American Ted Cruz is Texas’ junior senator. His successful bid in 2012 to succeed retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison—which came after he easily dispatched a primary opponent who had the strong backing of Texas’s Republican establishment—was seen as an affirmation of the tea party movement’s power. He became the movement's standard-bearer, dominating national politics as swiftly as another intellectually driven but far less ideological Senate freshman, Barack Obama, managed to do a few years earlier.

Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, where his parents worked in the Canadian oil business. His father’s life story figures prominently into Cruz’s political narrative. Rafael Cruz fought to overthrow the Fulgencio Batista regime in Cuba in the 1950s before fleeing to Texas at the age of 18, with nothing more than $100 sewn into his underwear. He worked as a dishwasher for 50 cents an hour to put himself through the University of Texas and ultimately started a business in Houston. There, he met Cruz’s mother, an Irish-American who studied math at Rice University.

As a high school student, Cruz earned scholarship money by entering speech contests organized by the Free Enterprise Institute, in which participants studied the “Ten Pillars of Economic Wisdom,” a libertarian manifesto, and then delivered 20-minute speeches about it. As part of the program, Cruz eventually memorized the Constitution and traveled around Texas discussing conservative ideas. He went on to Princeton, where he was a champion debater. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1995, he clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

After a few years spent with the Washington law firm Cooper, Carvin & Rosenthal, Cruz joined the George W. Bush’s campaign in 2000 as a domestic policy adviser. It was on the campaign trail he met his wife, Heidi Nelson Cruz, another member of the policy team. Both were dispatched to Florida in the chaos of the recount, which then led to jobs in the Bush administration. Cruz served first as associate deputy general at the Justice Department and then as director of the Office of Policy Planning for the Federal Trade Commission.

He returned to Texas in 2003, when he was appointed state solicitor general, making him the first Hispanic to hold the position in Texas. During his five-year tenure, Cruz argued before the U.S. Supreme Court nine times and participated in a number of high-profile cases, including one in which Texas fought to execute a Mexican citizen who raped and murdered two teenage girls and another in which he defended the display of the Ten Commandments on the state Capitol grounds. Cruz in July 2012 told the Texas Tribune, “We ended up, year after year, arguing some of the biggest cases in the country. There was a degree of serendipity in that, but there was also a concerted effort to seek out and lead conservative fights.” His successor in the job, James Ho, told The New Yorker: “He was and is the best appellate litigator in the state of Texas.”

Cruz was in private practice when he decided to run for the Senate. He was expected to be no match for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who not only had millions of dollars to throw into the race but also the backing of almost every prominent state Republican, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Cruz sank $1 million of his own money into the contest shortly before the primary and held Dewhurst to under 50% of the vote to force a runoff. From there, Cruz attracted the attention of tea party activists and got the backing of such national conservative heavyweights as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, as well as outside groups such as the Club for Growth and Freedom Works.

Dewhurst sought to cast Cruz as a creature of Washington, given his government experience, and suggested that Cruz did not have the state’s best interests in mind. Cruz portrayed Dewhurst as just another moderate Republican. Cruz ultimately trounced Dewhurst, 57% to 43%. He took every major Texas county, piling up margins as high as 73%-27% in west Texas’ El Paso County. In Houston’s Harris County, the state’s largest, he won 64%-36%. From there, he had little trouble beating his opponent in the general election, Democrat Paul Sadler, a lawyer from Henderson and a former Texas House member, 56%-41%.

Cruz immediately established himself during his early months in office as a strong intellectual voice for the far right in the Senate, following in the iconoclastic mold of Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, who became a frequent ally. Summarizing what he would do to enact a conservative agenda, Cruz told National Review, “What it takes is backbone, the willingness to stand and fight for those principles in the face of opposition and derision. Of those who have firm principles, even fewer have the backbones to stand for those principles when the heat is on.”

Cruz won ecstatic reviews from conservative activists for his aggressiveness on issues ranging from Obama administration nominees to foreign policy. But his hyper-confident style won him few friends among his new Democratic colleagues. When he reviewed the origins of the Bill of Rights to California Democrat Dianne Feinstein at a Judiciary Committee hearing in March, she snapped, “It’s fine you want to lecture me on the Constitution. I appreciate it. Just know that I’ve been here a long time.” After he used his initial Senate floor speech to lambast the new health care law, Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin chastized him for continuing the conservative “obsession” with the issue. Even Arizona Republican John McCain, complaining about Cruz’s assisting Kentucky GOP Sen. Paul during the Kentucky senator’s 13-hour talking filibuster, referred to the senators as “wacko birds.”

But Cruz didn’t seem to care. At a conservative awards dinner, he joked, “It is wonderful to be among friends or, as some might say, fellow wacko birds.” A Texas Tribune poll in March showed his favorability rating back home at 39%, 7 percentage points higher than that of his Texas GOP colleague John Cornyn.

As 2013 progressed, Cruz eclipsed fellow freshman Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, whom Time had anointed on its cover as the party's "savior." He opposed Rubio's efforts to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill while helping to spearhead the fight against expanded background checks on gun sales. But he had an even bigger goal in mind. He sought to block a vote on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government past the Sept. 30 budget deadline unless Congress barred spending any money to implement the Affordable Care Act. "I believe we can win this fight," he told reporters and conservative activists. But other Republicans weren't buying it; North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr called it "the dumbest idea I've ever heard." The resulting government shutdown damaged the GOP brand, and Cruz took a significant share of the blame. In September he staged a 21-hour talking marathon on the Senate floor in which he memorably read portions of Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” as a bedtime story to his two young daughters supposedly watching on C-SPAN.

But the episode thrilled tea party activists who were itching for a confrontation with the president they despised, and caused Cruz's star to shine even brighter in conservative circles. He traveled across the country giving speeches, accompanied by his father Rafael, who introduced him with the assertion, "He will not compromise!" His poll numbers as a potential 2016 presidential candidate crept upward, reaching double digits in some mid-2014 surveys. He made what was perceived as one small step toward a race in May 2014, when his Canadian citizenship was officially terminated.

By February 2014, Cruz was emboldened to the point where he objected to a deal crafted by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky that would require 50 votes instead of 60 to raise the debt ceiling. The lower threshold would give senators like McConnell in tough reelection races the political cover to vote against the raise while ensuring the chances that it would pass and government could continue to function. Cruz later said it enraged his colleagues more than any of his actions, but  was unrepentant. "It’s part of the reason why I’ve said many times that I think the biggest divide we’ve got in this country is not between Republicans and Democrats,” he told The New Yorker. “It’s between entrenched politicians in Washington in both parties and the American people.”

Cruz again planted himself squarely in the center of a prominent debate in August, when lawmakers were considering legislation to deal with a growing Central American refugee crisis at the borders of Texas and Mexico. Cruz met with a dozen House conservatives urging them to oppose any legislation that continued a program delaying deportation proceedings for certain undocumented immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. House GOP leaders were forced to pull the plan from the floor, delaying the August recess, and eventually passed a bill that was widely seen as too far to the right for the Democratically-controlled Senate to find acceptable. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a frequently quoted antagonist of Cruz, told The Washington Post: "The Obama White House should put Ted Cruz on the payroll."

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-5922

(202) 228-0755

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 404
Washington, DC 20510-4306

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-5922

(202) 228-0755

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 404
Washington, DC 20510-4306

DISTRICT OFFICE

(512) 916-5834

(512) 916-5839

300 East Eighth Street Suite 961
Austin, TX 78701

DISTRICT OFFICE

(512) 916-5834

(512) 916-5839

300 East Eighth Street Suite 961
Austin, TX 78701

DISTRICT OFFICE

(214) 599-8749

(214) 361-3518

3626 North Hall Street Suite 410
Dallas, TX 75219

DISTRICT OFFICE

(214) 599-8749

(214) 361-3518

3626 North Hall Street Suite 410
Dallas, TX 75219

DISTRICT OFFICE

(713) 718-3057

(713) 209-3459

808 Travis Street Suite 1420
Houston, TX 77002

DISTRICT OFFICE

(713) 718-3057

(713) 209-3459

808 Travis Street Suite 1420
Houston, TX 77002

DISTRICT OFFICE

(210) 340-2885

(210) 349-6753

3133 General Hundnell Drive Suite 120
San Antonio, TX 78226

DISTRICT OFFICE

(210) 340-2885

(210) 349-6753

3133 General Hundnell Drive Suite 120
San Antonio, TX 78226

DISTRICT OFFICE

(903) 593-5130

305 South Broadway Avenue Suite 501
Tyler, TX 75702

DISTRICT OFFICE

(903) 593-5130

305 South Broadway Avenue Suite 501
Tyler, TX 75702

DISTRICT OFFICE

(956) 686-7339

200 South Tenth Street Suite 1603
McAllen, TX 78501

DISTRICT OFFICE

(956) 686-7339

200 South Tenth Street Suite 1603
McAllen, TX 78501

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(713) 353-4330

PO Box 25376
Houston, TX 77265

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(713) 353-4330

PO Box 25376
Houston, TX 77265

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Courtney Asbill
Legislative Aide

Aerospace

Appropriations

Alec Aramanda
Deputy Legislative Director

Banking

Melanie Israel
Professional Staff Member

Budget

Max Pappas
Senior Economic Advisor; Director of Outreach

Consumers

Melanie Israel
Professional Staff Member

Crime

Melanie Israel
Professional Staff Member

Disaster

Samantha Leahy
Legislative Assistant

Economics

Max Pappas
Senior Economic Advisor; Director of Outreach

Education

Max Pappas
Senior Economic Advisor; Director of Outreach

Energy

Courtney Asbill
Legislative Aide

Environment

Max Pappas
Senior Economic Advisor; Director of Outreach

Foreign

Samantha Leahy
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Melanie Israel
Professional Staff Member

Health

Nicolas Muzin
Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategy; Senior Advisor

Alec Aramanda
Deputy Legislative Director

Courtney Asbill
Legislative Aide

Homeland Security

Victoria Coates
Senior Advisor for National Security Policy

Samantha Leahy
Legislative Assistant

Melanie Israel
Professional Staff Member

Human Rights

Courtney Asbill
Legislative Aide

Melanie Israel
Professional Staff Member

Immigration

Melanie Israel
Professional Staff Member

Intelligence

Samantha Leahy
Legislative Assistant

Internet

Dan Soto
Director of Information Technology

Judiciary

Melanie Israel
Professional Staff Member

Labor

Medicare

Nicolas Muzin
Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategy; Senior Advisor

Alec Aramanda
Deputy Legislative Director

Military

Matt Shipley
Military Legislative Assistant

Samantha Leahy
Legislative Assistant

National Security

Victoria Coates
Senior Advisor for National Security Policy

Samantha Leahy
Legislative Assistant

Public Works

Michael Sobolik
Legislative Correspondent

Science

Seniors

Alec Aramanda
Deputy Legislative Director

Tax

Courtney Asbill
Legislative Aide

Technology

Melanie Israel
Professional Staff Member

Trade

Max Pappas
Senior Economic Advisor; Director of Outreach

Transportation

Michael Sobolik
Legislative Correspondent

Veterans

Matt Shipley
Military Legislative Assistant

Welfare

Alec Aramanda
Deputy Legislative Director

Melanie Israel
Professional Staff Member

Women

Courtney Asbill
Legislative Aide

Melanie Israel
Professional Staff Member

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Ted Cruz
Votes: 4,440,137
Percent: 56.46%
Paul Sadler
Votes: 3,194,927
Percent: 40.62%
2012 RUNOFF
Ted Cruz
Votes: 631,812
Percent: 56.82%
David Dewhurst
Votes: 480,126
Percent: 43.18%
2012 PRIMARY
David Dewhurst
Votes: 627,731
Percent: 44.63%
Ted Cruz
Votes: 480,558
Percent: 34.16%
Tom Leppert
Votes: 187,900
Percent: 13.36%

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