Ted Cruz: Texas' New Latino Senator Is a Conservative Republican To Watch

Friday, 04 Jan 2013 11:05 AM

By Megan Anderle

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Ted Cruz made Texas history Thursday. The Houston lawyer and former solicitor general was sworn in as the state's first ever Latino U.S. senator.

Vice President Joe Biden swore in the conservative Republican just after noon among a group including Indiana's Joe Donnelly, California's Dianne Feinstein, and Nebraska’s Deb Fischer, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Cruz, Texas' 34th senator, replaces fellow Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison of Dallas. He is the first senator from Houston since 1993 when Lloyd Bentsen became President Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary.

Here are five things you should know about Cruz.

He's a champion for the Tea Party: He had an overwhelming upset in the GOP primary, 57-43, against establishment candidate Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Sarah Palin said that the win shows that conservative voters are ready for change and considered Cruz's election progress for the party.

He may be around for a while:
The Republican senator may be gearing up for a 2016 presidential run; there's a lot of hope for him – many conservative news outlets have gushed about him. The National Review, for example, boasted that he is "the next great conservative hope." His supporters hope he will attract Hispanic voters who are often turned off by Republican candidates. Cruz has criticized the Republican party for its lack of leadership, and in late November, he gave a speech about rebranding the GOP, suggesting that he is considering candidacy. "We need to embrace what I call 'Opportunity Conservatism.' We need to conceptualize, we need to articulate conservative domestic policy with a laser focus on opportunity, on easing the means of ascent up the economic ladder," he said. He also spoke at the Republican National Convention this year.

He thinks Romney lost the race because of his 47 percent remark: At a dinner party with conservative activist group the American Principles Project, Cruz said that Romney's famous remark that implied 47 percent of the American population are dependent on the government was a deal-breaker for the presidential hopeful.

He's fiery: Off the bat, Cruz has vowed to "repeal every syllable of every word of Obamacare" and called the fiscal cliff package "a lousy deal" for raising taxes by $620 billion without affecting spending. He has also attacked government spending, saying "It appears the president would like to simply keep taxing and spending as if the law of mathematics do not apply." While on the campaign trail, he made it clear he's not a career politician: "Look, we're all tired of empty talk. I mean, what's frustrating as a voter is you see candidate after candidate that talks a good game, says they're going to cut our taxes, says they're going to stand for principle, and then they go to Washington and they turn into a spineless jellyfish."

He has never held office before:
Cruz has had an impressive career as an attorney, arguing cases before the Supreme Court but never sought political office. The 42-year-old is a self-made man who attended Princeton University as an undergrad and Harvard Law School. He was an avid debater throughout college and founded the Latino Law Review. He has criticized the faculty at Harvard, calling them "communists" who “were raised in privilege, have never worked very hard in their lives."

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