7. Ted Cruz
The junior senator from Texas, elected in 2012, didn't waste any time making a name for himself as a top tea party politician. Senator Cruz wants to rewrite the tax code, abolish the Internal Revenue Service, and get rid of the Affordable Care Act. In September 2013, he delivered an epic 21-hour speech from the Senate floor making the case for defunding Obamacare. He was also a leading advocate for the hard-line demands that led to a 16-day government shutdown a month later.
Cruz has not said he’s running for president, but he’s been visiting early-primary states and winning straw polls at conservative political gatherings. This son of a Cuban immigrant father is also quick to defend his eligibility for the presidency, despite his Canadian birth.
“My mother was born in Wilmington, Del. She’s a US citizen, so I’m a US citizen by birth,” Cruz said on ABC-TV. “I’m not going to engage in a legal debate.”
In August 2013, Cruz announced he was renouncing any claim to Canadian citizenship.
Cruz brings an Ivy League résumé to the table, with degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He clerked at the US Supreme Court, and later argued cases before the high court as solicitor general of Texas.
Only in his early 40s, Cruz can certainly wait and garner more experience in politics before going for gold. (His Senate victory was his first run for office.) But he looks eager to go for 2016.