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Tea party drools over Ted Cruz, but can he survive Texas primary?

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If Cruz survives to a runoff, some of his supporters who have not gone all-in on the race would have reason to open their checkbooks. Second, a runoff gives Cruz more time to introduce himself to Texas voters – as a former government lawyer who has never held an elected office, he’s way behind Dewhurst and Leppert in familiarity to most Texans.

And third, a runoff in the smothering heat of a Texas summer cuts back on voters with the least conviction – and if you support Ted Cruz, you’re probably willing to brave a lot more than a little sun to get to the ballot box.

A look at Cruz’s resume helps explain his appeal to tea party conservatives.

The son of a Cuban political refugee who came to Texas with $100 sewn into his underwear, Cruz was a master debater as an undergraduate at Princeton before an honors-filled tour at Harvard Law School.

From there, Cruz clerked with conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and served in two legal posts within the George W. Bush administration before heading back to Texas. When, in 2003, he became Texas solicitor general, Cruz was the youngest person and first Hispanic to hold the post. He finished his term in 2008, having managed to argue cases that are catnip to conservative voters: US sovereignty against world courts, the Second Amendment, a controversial Texas monument to the Ten Commandments, and the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

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