Ted Cruz 2016: The Rising Contender

Although Donald Trump is still leading the polls at 25%, U.S. Senator from Texas Ted Cruz is now right behind him at 23%, bumping Carson down to 5 percentage points below him at 18%. It is the first time Cruz has polled above Carson in the presidential race. His rise is also fascinating for political analysts, who saw Marco Rubio as the GOP candidate who would rise furthest after the Paris terror attacks because of his foreign policy experience. There is a distinct possibility that it will be Ted Cruz in 2016.

Ted Cruz 2016_Paris Terror Attacks

The sudden rise of Ted Cruz is bringing back an old discussion: how well should non-politicization and experience be balanced? The fact that both Trump and Carson have been leading recent polls showed there was disillusionment with candidates perceived as “political.” The Paris attacks, on the other hand, sent voters looking for a candidate who had the political savvy for the situation. This candidate just might be Ted Cruz 2016.

Family and Education

Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz comes from Irish-Italian ancestry on his mother’s side, and Cuban ancestry on his father’s. Ted Cruz’s father Rafael Bienvenido Cruz fled Fidel Castro’s regime, straight to the University of Texas in the United States. He met his wife Emily Darragh in the United States, and they moved to Canada where Ted Cruz was born.

Shortly after his birth, the Cruz family moved back to Texas. Ted Cruz attended Faith West Academy for part of high school, but his alma mater is the Second Baptist High School, where he graduated class valedictorian. Cruz acted in high school, not enough to consider an acting career, but it was a good start to speech training.

Cruz graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Princeton University, cum laude. He then earned a Juris Doctor degree in Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude. In both universities, he distinguished himself as a debater.


In 1992 alone, Cruz won the top speaker award in the North American Debating Championship and the U.S. National Debating Championship, the U.S. National Speaker of the Year award, and Team of the Year (with David Panton). In 1995, Cruz and Panton competed in the World Debating Championship, representing Harvard Law School.

Ted Cruz is married to Heidi Nelson, with whom he has two daughters, Caroline and Catherine. He is currently serving as U.S. Senator from Texas, and is running as Ted Cruz 2016, the first Cuban-American to run for President (ahead of Marco Rubio by 3 weeks).

Legal Practice

In 1995, the same year he graduated from Harvard Law School, Ted Cruz was a law clerk in the United States Court of Appeals, for J. Michael Luftig. The next year, Cruz was law clerk for U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the first Hispanic to hold such a position to a Chief Justice.

U.S. Court of Appeals

From 1997 to 1998, Cruz pursued a private practice in law with Cooper & Kirk, LLC (then Cooper, Carvin & Rosenthal). His involvement in politics began there in his legal capacity, as he assisted in the impeachment testimonies in the Clinton case. He also aided Congressman John Boehner as private counsel against Congressman Jim McDermott in a case of a released tape recording of Boehner.

After serving as Solicitor General of Texas, Cruz returned to private legal practice with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP from 2008 to 2013. He mostly served corporate clients, and continued in this career until his Senatorial run and win in 2012.

Ted Cruz Entry into Public Office

Cruz became more involved in politics, still in a legal sense, when he became domestic policy adviser to (at the time) Governor George W. Bush. He ended up aiding in the assembling of Bush’s team of legal advisers. During the Bush Administration, he served in the U.S. Department of Justice as an associate deputy attorney general, and in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, as director of policy planning.

Ted Cruz 2016_Texas Solicitor General

Cruz’s political-legal career continued to go up, as he was appointed to the relatively new office of the Solicitor General of Texas, and held that post from 2003 to 2008. He represented Texas before the Supreme Court 9 times, winning 5.

During his tenure, he was named one of the 50 Best Litigators under 45 in America by the American Lawyer, one of the 25 Greatest Texan Lawyers of the Past Quarter Century by the Texas Lawyer, and one of the 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America by The National Law Journal.

Senatorial Run

In 2011, Ted Cruz announced his decision to run for U.S. Senator from Texas. Despite never having held public office, he managed to win the Republican nomination over David Dewhurst, sitting Lieutenant Governor at the time.

Ted Cruz 2016_Tea Party Express

During the race, he was endorsed by prominent figures and Political Action Committees (PACs) such as Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, FreedomWorks for America, and the Tea Party Express. He went on to win the Senatorial seat over Democrat candidate Paul Sadler.

Cruz was sworn in in 2013 and is serving until the present. In that election, Cruz proved popular (for a Republican) with the Hispanics, winning 40% of their vote. This increases the election chances of Ted Cruz 2016.

Ted Cruz Presidential Platform

Republican primary voters place the highest importance on two issues: national security and the economy. For the latter, Ted Cruz is best known for his advocacy of a flat tax rate. According to Cruz, what the United States requires at the moment is incentive for economic growth. Across the board, American citizens need to feel like they are working for worthwhile compensation, with a predictable and stable tax rate. This kind of tax rate would encourage jobs growth and the growth of home-grown businesses.

Ted Cruz Flat Tax Plan

On the other hand, Cruz on national security is known for centrism. He opposed the National Security Agency (NSA) and their program on data collection from private phone conversations by supporting the USA Freedom Act. Cruz is a stickler for the rights of U.S. citizens to privacy and safety from their own government. Even in the Senate, he sponsored a bill that would prohibit the use of American drones against American citizens.

At the same time, Ted Cruz is closely watchful for terrorist threats to the United States. In 2014, Cruz sponsored a bill (subsequently passed into law) that restricted visas to ambassadors to the United Nations who had taken part in activities that opposed national security issues. In this, Cruz shows that he views national security very much as an action of the U.S. Government against external threats.

At the moment, Cruz strongly opposes the entrance of Syrian refugees into the United States. He also says that if ever American boots need to be on the ground, they should be used only to destroy terrorist strongholds. Nation-building, on the other hand, should be left to the residents.

Ted Cruz 2016_Marco Rubio national security

While Ted Cruz has risen more to the forefront of the race after the Paris terror attacks, his stance on national security may not be a boon to him in the days to come. Marco Rubio, fourth in the polls, is challenging his national security and foreign policy platform as too indecisive and not pre-emptive enough to keep America safe. Cruz will need to respond well and fast to be able to combat Rubio’s words before the tide of public sentiment—which is powerfully anti-ISIS at the moment—turns against him.

When it comes to energy use and climate change, Cruz advocates industrialization over energy conservation and safety. This has prompted scientists to give him an extremely low grade, lower than kindergarten level, on his knowledge of the climate and environmental issues.

Ted Cruz 2016_oil drilling

For immigration, Cruz is very much open to economic immigrants and an increase in legal immigration. However, for illegal immigrants, he opposes birthright citizenship. He also supports Donald Trump’s wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, and tighter border security measures.

Will It Be Ted Cruz 2016?

This presidential campaign has shown that Ted Cruz is, above all, a brilliant campaign strategist. Despite ranking below Donald Trump and Ben Carson, and drawing up about even with Marco Rubio, The Ted Cruz 2016 campaign focused on one thing: cornering his opponents’ voter markets.

When Donald Trump first declared his run for the presidency, Cruz became visible by outright and explicitly agreeing with some of Trump’s statements. Cruz has also declined to attack recently-deposed second runner-up Ben Carson, knowing that Carson’s supporters are also potentially his voters.

Ted Cruz 2016_POTUS 2016

What Cruz is vocal against is the Republican bloc of elected officials, taking them generally most of the time. He has publicly accused them of not fulfilling their voters’ needs once put into power, and is known for alienating most of the incumbent Republican Senators and Congressmen.

This is, however, very much to his advantage if played right. Carson and Trump reached the heights they did because of their perceived non-politicization, but may lose them because of lack of experience. As it stands, it may well be Ted Cruz 2016. He is well-placed to corner the market by blending his experience as elected public official, with an outspoken tongue against government politics.

About the author

Esther has a B.A. in Humanities and an M.A. in Political Economy. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing Sequence with her family, training in Aikido, and curling up with coffee and a good book.