Election 2016: 25 Things You Need to Know About Ted Cruz

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Jim Cole/AP Images

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may be best known for his anti-Obamacare Senate speech that lasted over 21 hours and included a reading of “Green Eggs and Ham” (more on that later). But the fiery first-term senator played the politics game long before he trounced his establishment-backed rival, former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, in the Republican Senate primary in 2012.

That race may have won him fans with tea partyers, as well as endorsements from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former South Carolina Sen. (and current Heritage Foundation head) Jim DeMint, but Cruz has been haunting the halls of government for over a decade. Cruz was a law clerk in the Supreme Court in 1996 for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and was the longest-serving Solicitor General in Texas. In between, he was a policy adviser on President George W. Bush’s campaign team, which is how he met his wife, Heidi. They married in 2001 and have two young daughters.

InsideGov takes a spin around the key facts and figures that define Cruz’s political career and shape his persona. We love data-driven smart takes on politics, so we collected the 25 most critical points on Cruz, ranking them from smallest (1 namesake championship) to largest ($500 billion).

1 Namesake Championship

Wikimedia Commons

After a successful and decorated tenure on Princeton University’s American Whig-Cliosophic Society debate team, the school named an annual competition the “Ted Cruz Living Memorial Novice Championship.”

1 of 3 Wacko Birds

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images

In March 2013, Arizona Sen. John McCain designated three of his fellow Republican colleagues “wacko birds” in response to a filibuster related to the CIA’s drone policy. McCain called out Cruz, along with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (also running for president in 2016) and Michigan Rep. Justin Amash.

2 Countries

Cruz’s American mother gave birth to him in Alberta, making him a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. He renounced his Canadian citizenship on May 14, 2014.

2 Ivy League Schools

According to his former law professor, prominent legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, “Cruz was off-the-charts brilliant.” Indeed, Cruz’s diplomas back up that assessment: He attended Princeton University for undergrad and studied law at Harvard.

4 Books

Charlie Neibergall/AP Images

Cruz has penned one book of his own, “A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America,” which came out June 2015. He’s also been the subject of three coloring books: “Ted Cruz to the Future,” “Ted Saves America” and “We ‘C’ Ted Cruz for President,” the sales of which benefit his 2016 campaign.

4 Top Debate Awards

In 1992, while a senior at Princeton University, Cruz scored four big-time awards as part of the university’s debate team: North American Debating Championship Top Speaker, National Championship Top Speaker, Speaker of the Year, Team of the Year.

5 Years

From 2004 to 2009, Cruz taught Supreme Court litigation at the University of Texas School of Law.

5 Super PACs

Cruz benefits from five different super PACs that support his presidential run: Stand for Principle PAC, Keep the Promise PAC, Keep the Promise I, Keep the Promise II and Keep the Promise III. As of the most recent campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, the five groups have raised more than $38 million.

6 Person of the Year Mentions

After only one year on Capitol Hill, Cruz got six nods for person (or some variation) of the year. In 2013, a leader at the conservative advocacy group Americans for Limited Government named Cruz “Person of the Year” in an opinion piece published in The Hill. Three conservative media outlets (The Blaze, FrontPage Magazine and the American Spectator) named Cruz “Man of the Year,” and Townhall.com awarded him “Conservative of the Year.” The Republican Party of Sarasota in Florida gave him the “Statesman of the Year” Award.

That same year, Cruz was a finalist for the Dallas Morning News’ Texan of the Year designation and for Time’s “Person of the Year” award.

When it comes to the 2016 presidential race, Cruz is the second most conservative candidate, according to data from OnTheIssues.

9 Cases

Wikipedia Commons

Cruz argued nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court as the Texas Solicitor General. He held that position from 2003 to 2008, and won five of the cases.

16 Days

Wikipedia Commons

In October 2013, the federal government shut down for 16 days after Congress didn’t approve a budget. The Republican-led House provided resolutions that would have delayed or defunded the Affordable Care Act, but Democrats in the Senate and President Barack Obama refused to pass a bill with such language.

Although Cruz maintained Senate Democrats were to blame for the shutdown, many in Washington faulted Cruz. He embarked on a 21-hour Senate speech against the healthcare law a few days before the government closed.

17.3 Percent

As InsideGov reported last week, Cruz is crushing it in Iowa. Overall, he is in third place at 17.3 percent.

But one specific poll put out right before Thanksgiving helped boost Cruz's standings. The Quinnipiac University poll showed Cruz at 23 percent in Iowa, a 13-point gain.

21 Hours, 19 Minutes

Charles Dharapak/AP Images

Cruz collected national attention in September 2013, when he took on an anti-Obamacare “talkathon” on the Senate floor that lasted 21 hours and 19 minutes. Of that time, Cruz dedicated more than five minutes to a reading of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.”

36 Weeks

Cruz announced he was running for the White House at Liberty University in March 2015, meaning his presidential campaign is 36 weeks old. The Texan was the first major candidate to throw his hat into the ring.

56.4 Percent

Wikipedia Commons

In 2012, Texans elected Cruz to the Senate with 56 percent of the vote. He beat former state Rep. Paul Sadler, a Democrat who served in the state House for 12 years.

59 Bills

Since his arrival on Capitol Hill in January 2013, Cruz has sponsored 59 bills.



Need a last-minute outfit for the office ugly holiday sweater party? Cruz’s presidential campaign has you covered with this gem, complete with the candidate in a Santa hat and surrounded by the “don’t tread on me” snake logo adopted by the tea party.

100 Percent

Charles Dharapak/AP Image

Heritage Action for America gave Cruz a perfect 100 percent on its scorecard in 2015. The prominent conservative political advocacy nonprofit consistently ranks Cruz among the most conservative senators.

4,527 Donors

On September 30, 2015, 4,527 donors contributed at least $200 each to Cruz’s presidential campaign. That was the last day of the third quarter of fundraising, always a significant deadline for last-minute cash-grabs since fundraising numbers are touted as a critical indicator of a campaign’s strength.


Cruz’s official campaign committee, Cruz for President, has raised an average of $103,779 per day. That’s the fifth-highest per-day average among all current presidential candidates.


Nati Harnik/AP Images

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, during his 2016 presidential run, Cruz has collected about half a million dollars from the oil and gas industry. During his 2012 Senate race, Cruz raised more than $751,000 from that sector.


Texas-based donors have given more than $9.2 million in contributions over $200 to Cruz’s official campaign committee. Cruz’s neighbors in his native Houston have given over $2.5 million.


During the 2012 Senate Republican primary in Texas, Cruz raised about $15.1 million. His primary opponent, former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, raised almost $34 million.


Since he started running for president, Cruz has raised more than $26.5 million for his official campaign committee. He has spent almost $13 million of that, making for a 48 percent burn rate.


Jim Cole/AP Images

On his campaign website, Cruz estimates he can save $500 billion in 10 years by eliminating five federal departments, cutting 25 federal agencies and commissions, instating a commission to weed out government waste, passing a balanced budget amendment and instituting a hiring freeze for federal workers. The plan is called 5 for Freedom.

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