Ted Cruz

When Ted Cruz announced his candidacy for president on March 23, 2015, he did it with a bang. In his campaign kick-off speech, he repeatedly made mention of his conservative views, passionately appealing to the tea party base to coalesce around him. While the 44-year old Cruz hadn’t waited long to throw his hat into the presidential race (he was the first declared candidate for the Republican nomination), in some ways it’s been a long road up to this point.

Ted Cruz was born on December 22, 1970, in a small town in Alberta, Canada. His parents were working in the oil industry there, but they didn’t stay in Canada for long. They soon moved to Houston, Texas, where Ted was raised. He graduated high school in 1988, and moved on to Princeton University. In 1995, Cruz graduated from Harvard Law School.

He began his law career immediately after graduation, serving as a clerk to a justice on the U.S. Court of Appeals. In 1996, he clerked for the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William J. Rehnquist. His clerkships were the beginning of a long career in law, in which he served in both the public and private sectors.

Cruz’s first official political position was serving as associate deputy attorney general in the early years of the George W. Bush administration. Cruz had established a relationship with Bush working as a policy advisor in his 2000 presidential campaign. He also helped in the historic legal battle that emerged from that election. In recognition of his help, Bush appointed him to different posts in his administration.

In 2003, Cruz was appointed as Texas Solicitor General. The office’s job was to handle appeals involving the state of Texas. In his five years as Solicitor General, Cruz argued before the U.S. Supreme Court nine times, winning five of the cases.

After leaving his job as Solicitor General in 2008, Cruz returned to the private sector, working in a law firm in Houston. On January 19, 2011, following the news that the sitting Republican Senator of Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, would not seek reelection, Cruz announced that he was running for the position.

He was the underdog in the GOP senatorial primary, as he ran against the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst — the establishment favorite. However, Cruz overcame the odds and beat Dewhurst by a wide margin, going on to win the general election.

Upon taking office in January 2013, Cruz became an instant tea party favorite. Although he was fresh to the Senate, Cruz wasn’t shy about speaking out his hardline conservative opinions on a national stage, and he had soon become a nationally recognized figure.

Cruz has stuck to his guns during his presidential run, not giving ground in the face of his opponents. While, like many Republicans, he is a fiscal conservative, he differs with many of his fellow party members on how to deal with economic issues.

He believes in an uncompromising stance on the raising of the debt ceiling, opposing measures in the Senate that were pushed by the Republican leadership in that direction. He has also promised to abolish the IRS, and proposed a flat tax instead.

On domestic policy, Cruz takes the standard conservative line, supporting traditional marriage, being pro-life, and supporting gun rights, among other issues.

One liberal policy that Cruz’s firebrand personality shows itself on is Obamacare. Ever since he entered the Senate, Cruz has been working tirelessly to kill the law. In 2013, he filibustered for over 20 hours, trying to stop a continuing resolution that would fund Obamacare. Although so far nothing has come of his efforts, he has gained an almost folk-hero status among more conservative Republicans for his determination to stop the law.

During his time in the Senate, Cruz has been a fierce supporter of Israel. He has been among the fiercest critics of the current administration’s deal with Iran, holding a rally on Capitol Hill against the deal. In 2014, Cruz walked off the stage in the middle of a speech, after the crowd booed his pro-Israel remarks. Cruz’s conservative values, as well as his strong support for Israel, have caused his campaign to become popular among different Jewish groups — specifically with the Orthodox Jewish community.

Just a few months ago, there is no way that Ted Cruz would have imagined his political standing today. When he entered the race, Cruz was the anti-establishment candidate, seeking to tap into a frustrated GOP base for support. Today he is considered overall, a mainstream conservative candidate, his nonconformist campaign having been overshadowed by two other outsiders’ candidacies — that of Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

However, for supporters of Ted Cruz, there is still much hope. After a strong debate appearance, Cruz’s numbers have been rising steadily, leading to renewed optimism in his candidacy. As the primary elections draw closer and voters begin to put focus on more substantive issues, there is a good chance that Cruz will steadily siphon off support from the other outsider candidates and emerge in a final showdown with the eventual establishment candidate. It is a long road ahead for Ted Cruz, but for his supporters, the feeling is he’s headed in the right direction.