Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tea Party Upstart from Texas on Fast Track to Senate

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tea Party Upstart from Texas on Fast Track to Senate

Article excerpt

HOUSTON -- As a teenager, Ted Cruz was an intense and eloquent parser of free-market economics, dazzling Rotary Clubs in Houston by reciting the Constitution. At Princeton, he was a national champion debater and an intellectual leader of a band of conservative students. He was a Harvard Law School star and clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court's chief justice.

But few may have imagined Mr. Cruz, 41, in his newest role, as the Tea Party favorite and Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, trading verbal orchids with the likes of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Mr. Cruz earned the nomination Tuesday in a runoff election after more than a year of sweaty street campaigning, drawing national attention for beating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the more experienced nominee of the Texas GOP establishment.

"I'd have predicted that he would be a professor, not a politician," said Robert George, Mr. Cruz's adviser at Princeton in the early 1990s. Mr. George, a noted social conservative, said Mr. Cruz stood out even among his Ivy League peers as "intellectually and morally serious," writing his thesis on the separation of powers.

"But he's certainly not a shrinking violet," Mr. George quickly added in an interview Tuesday -- to which Mr. Dewhurst, a wealthy conservative who had the support of Gov. Rick Perry, can attest.

Mr. Cruz's victory in November is all but assured in this heavily Republican state and marks a shift to the right in Texas' already- conservative party.

Political elders and experts who have watched him during his time as state solicitor general and on the campaign trail predict that he will be an intellectual force in Congress on behalf of constitutional limits on federal power. He is expected to join Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and other Tea Party icons as an uncompromising irritant of mainstream Republicans and Democrats alike. …

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