Ted Cruz seems ready to join a group of young Washington pols who combine tea party conservatism with scholarly style. After beating Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP runoff last month, Cruz is expected to easily win a general-election contest to replace retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Cruz draws obvious comparisons to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Both are 41-year-old sons of Cuban immigrants who defeated better-established primary opponents. But Cruz’s career may more closely resemble that of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, also 41, who won a 2010 GOP primary after Republican Sen. Bob Bennett was ousted in a party convention. Both men clerked for Supreme Court justices—Lee for Justice Samuel Alito, Cruz for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Each worked in his home state’s Justice Department.
Conservative columnist George Will described Cruz, Lee, and Rubio as “limited-government constitutionalists” reinvigorating the Right. Some would include Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who is expected to take up
his father’s mantle as a libertarian-leaning presidential candidate in 2016.
Cruz may boast the most impressive preelection résumé. His campaign says that he began winning speech contests at age 13. He attended Princeton University, where he won national awards for his work on
the debate team. At Harvard Law School, Cruz was the primary editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Serving as Texas solicitor general from 2003 to 2008 offered Cruz a chance to argue for conservative causes célèbres, such as the state’s right to display a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the state Capitol. Cruz later became a partner in a major law firm.
Like Lee or Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee, Cruz’s political brand is that of a smart, young, earnest candidate pushing an ideology grounded in conservative theory more than political practice. These self-styled intellectuals have used conservatism to boost their careers but also say they embrace a tea party agenda out of conviction.
Cruz, like Rubio and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, also a Tampa speaker, is among a number of Latino Republicans whom the party hopes will help increase the GOP’s appeal to Hispanic voters. That appeal involves fielding Latino candidates and arguing that existing Republican positions, especially those on social issues, should attract Hispanic support. At the same time, Cruz and others offer a standard GOP position on immigration. Cruz wants more border security and opposes any form of amnesty for illegal immigrants.
The Texan has called for abolishing or consolidating the Education, Commerce, and Energy departments and the Internal Revenue Service. Like most GOP hopefuls, he says he wants to repeal the 2010 health care law and the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law, cut back environmental regulations, end offshore-drilling restrictions, reform the tax code, and adopt a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
Cruz attributes his political philosophy to the experience of his parents, whose story he is likely to emphasize in his speech. His father came to the United States in 1957, nearly penniless, at age 18 after fighting against the regime of former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Cruz’s parents, both college math majors, started a business processing data for oil companies.
“We need to harness the frontier mentality that defines Texans and work tirelessly to ensure that our children enjoy the same freedom and opportunity—built on individual responsibility—that has formed the foundation of our country,” Cruz states on his website.