Senator Rafael Edward Cruz, the son a former political prisoner of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, is probably the most prominent member of the intellectual spine of the Tea Party movement. The staunchly conservative Latino is also frequently spoken of as one of the most brilliant members of the current Congress.
The Canada-born Senator’s journey into politics began almost three decades ago during high school in Houston, where as a member of the conservative program, the Constitutional Corroborators, he was required to memorize the U.S. Constitution and recite it at public events, and at times, speak about conservative ideas.
After high school, he enrolled in Princeton, and graduated cum laude in 1992 with a Bachelor’s degree. While there, Cruz was part of the highly successful university debate team, the American Whig–Cliosophic Society. In 1992, he was crowned as the U.S. National Speaker of the Year and was a member of the National Team of the Year. He was also named First Place Speaker at the North American Debate Championships.
After Princeton, Cruz went to Harvard Law, where he became the founding general editor of the Harvard Latino Law Review and served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating magna cum laude with a law degree in 1995, Cruz clerked for Fourth Circuit Judge Michael Luttig for a year, before joining the office of Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
Cruz left the following year to work in private practice for two years before being tapped to join the fledgling campaign of future president George W. Bush. By the following year, Cruz was promoted to Domestic Policy Advisor in the campaign.
After the victorious election campaign, he was selected to be the Department of Justice Coordinator for the Bush Transition Team. The following year, President Bush appointed him as an Associate Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, before promoting him to Director of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission less than a year later.
He returned to Texas in 2003 after being appointed the state’s Solicitor General. At 33 years old, he was the youngest solicitor general in American history. The following year, Cruz accepted a teaching invitation by the University of Texas School of Law and served as an Adjunct Professor of Law until 2009. He resigned as Solicitor General in 2008, and reentered private practice, serving as partner at Houston-based Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where he specialized in litigating appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court and federal appellate courts.
During the period, Cruz was widely viewed as one of the top constitutional litigators in the country, and in 2010, was named as one of the “25 Greatest Texas Lawyers of the Past Quarter Century” by the respected weekly newspaper Texas Lawyer. Several other publications, namely, Chambers USA, Legal 500, and Law 360, referred to him as one of the top appellate litigators in the country.
In 2012, with the endorsement of several party heavyweights – Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and Ron Paul, to name a few – and the Tea Party, the relatively unknown Cruz ran against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the Republican nomination for the 2012 Senatorial election. After finishing ten points behind Dewhurst in the first round of balloting, Cruz defeated his opponent by 13 percent in the run off, clearing the way for a match up against Democratic nominee Paul Sadler. On November 6, 2012, Cruz defeated Sadler by a thumping 16 points to secure a seat in the United States Senate.
Within months of his arrival in the Senate, Cruz was appointed to four Senate Committees, and is the ranking member on two subcommittees, Science and Space, and Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.
His supporters are quietly confident that Senator Cruz is destined for much greater things. The question is now, will it be the Governor’s Mansion in Austin in 2014, or the White House in 2016?