Raphael Edward Cruz: A Biography

One of the best magazine articles to summarize the life and career of Ted Cruz was written by Jeffrey Toobin and appeared in The New Yorker in June 2014 under the title,”The Absolutist – Ted Cruz is an unyielding debater – and the far right’s most formidable advocate.”  Click here to read Toobin’s really good story, that begins the story of Ted Cruz this way:

Cruz came to the Senate, in 2012, and then to national prominence, through an unusual route. Like many politicians, he is a lawyer, but his legal expertise is of a special kind, which helps explain both his fame and his notoriety. Before he ran for the Senate, Cruz was on his way to becoming one of the most notable appellate advocates in the country. “He was and is the best appellate litigator in the state of Texas,” James Ho, who succeeded Cruz as solicitor general of the state, told me. Trial lawyers, civil or criminal, are often brought into cases when there are compromises to be made; much of their work winds up involving settlements or plea bargains. But appellate litigators, like Cruz, generally appear after the time for truce has passed. Their job is to make their best case and let the chips fall where they may. That is the kind of politician Cruz has become—one who came to Washington not to make a deal but to make a point. Citing Margaret Thatcher, Cruz often puts his approach this way: “First you win the argument, then you win the vote.”

New yorker photo of Cruz








Another in-depth story on Cruz’s life was printed by Mother JonesClick here to read that story.    Click here for the Wikipedia article on Ted Cruz.

The New York Times ran a very interesting story about Senator Cruz’s wife, Heidi Nelson Cruz, who is a managing director at Goldman Sachs.  Click here to read that story.  Ted and Heidi are the parents of two young girls.  The feisty, combative image of Ted Cruz doesn’t quite match the image of a Dad reading bedtime stories to little girls, and it is part of his life that he should be more willing to display.

ted and family









Several articles have looked at Ted Cruz’s formative years in college.  Click here to read a fairly negative story about Cruz in the Daily Beast entitled,”Ted Cruz at Princeton: Creepy, Sometimes Well Liked, and Exactly the Same.”  The article begins with this paragraph:

When Craig Mazin first met his freshman roommate, Rafael Edward Cruz, he knew the 17-year-old Texan was not like other students at Princeton, or probably anywhere else for that matter.  “I remember very specifically that he had a book in Spanish and the title was Was Karl Marx a Satanist? And I thought, who is this person?” Mazin says of Ted Cruz. “Even in 1988, he was politically extreme in a way that was surprising to me.”

Click here to read a more favorable story about Ted Cruz in college from Slate that says:

I talked to some Yale debate team alumni who competed with Cruz in college—Yale and Princeton have a decades-spanning, Crips/Bloods sort of debate team rivalry. Slate‘s own Dahlia Lithwick faced off against Cruz in college tournaments, and remembers his high-minded rhetoric. “He wasn’t ‘creepy’ on the debate circuit—he was a phenom,” she said. “When Ted was 19 people knew he’d run for president.”

No one can dispute that Ted Cruz was a champion debater in college.  Click here to read a story about Cruz the debater and how he acted then like he does now in the U.S. Senate today.  Ted’s debate partner, David Panton, was from Jamaica and he is now a very rich hedge fund partner and the co-founder of the Super PAC that seems to be promoting Ted Cruz for President.

Cruz debaterTed Cruz and David Panton show off their many debate trophies.





The Boston Globe ran a balanced story about Ted Cruz at Harvard Law School.  Click here to read that story that said:

Interviews with more than two dozen alumnae and professors fill in a portrait of Cruz, in Cambridge two decades ago, that would be fully recognizable to those who know him now in Washington. He made a lasting impression as someone both arrogant and pretentious, as well as someone unwilling to yield or compromise.  But he was also universally respected for his intellect, described by friend and foe alike as brilliant but with a hard edge.

Cruz in collegeTed Cruz in Harvard in 1994.





The following biography of Ted Cruz is quoted in part from The Pesky Truth blog.  Click here to read the full article, which is supported by most published accounts of the Senator’s career.

Rafael Edward Cruz

Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, on December 22, 1970, where his parents, Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson Darragh and Rafael Bienvenido Cruz were living while working in the energy exploration field. His parents had just launched a seismic-data processing business supporting oil drillers.

Cruz’s father was born in 1939 in Matanzas, Cuba and “suffered beatings and imprisonment for protesting the oppressive regime” of then Dictator Fulgencio Batista.

The elder Cruz says that when he was fourteen, he fought alongside Fidel Castro’s forces to overthrow Batista, Cuba’s U.S.-backed dictator. He was later to become a staunch critic of Castro when the rebel leader took control and began seizing private property and suppressing dissent, it was then that he learned that Castro was a Communist.

By 1957, spurred by his aversion to the Castro regime, the 18-year-old Cruz decided to get out of Cuba by applying to the University of Texas. Upon being admitted, he got a four-year student visa at the U.S. Consulate in Havana and moved to Austin, Texas to study at the University of Texas.

I came to this country legally,” Cruz’s father says. “I came here with a legal visa, and … every step of the way, I have been here legally.

He arrived in Austin knowing no English and with only $100 sewn into his underwear. He worked his way through college as a dishwasher, making 50 cents an hour, subsequently earning a degree in mathematics.

His younger sister fought in the counter-revolution and was tortured by the new regime. He remained regretful for his early support of Castro, and emphatically conveyed his feelings to young Ted over the following years.

Today, Cruz’s father is now a pastor in Carrollton, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. He became a U.S. citizen in 2005.

Cruz’s mother, Eleanor Darragh, was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, in a family of Irish and Italian descent. She was the first person in her family to attend college. She earned a degree in mathematics from Rice University in Houston in the 1950s, while working summers at Foley’s Department Store and Shell Oil. She later worked in Houston as a computer programmer at Shell.

She was four years older than Rafael Cruz when they met. He had two daughters from a previous marriage who spent summers with the couple.

The couple moved to Canada, and co-founded a seismic-data processing business, supporting the oil exploration that was enjoying a boom there. Ted was born three days before Christmas in 1970 in Calgary, where his parents’ were living at the time.

Three years later, while living in Alberta, a slump hit the price of oil and Raphael and Darragh sold their business. They separated shortly thereafter and Raphael moved back to Houston. Six months later, in 1974, Darragh also returned to Houston, though they remained estranged.

Cruz was away at Princeton University when his parents’ second business foundered and they later divorced. “The oil industry had really taken a dive and they had gone bankrupt – they lost everything when oil tanked,” Cruz said.

As Ted was growing up, “he was very curious and very determined,” his mother recalled. It wasn’t until Ted was well along in grade school, though, that Darragh grasped he might be intellectually gifted.

She chauffeured him to a series of private and church-related schools. Some were far from home. They included Montessori and Southern Baptist institutions, as well as a school that he recalled had many Jewish students and another, the Awty International School that his mother said enrolled children of French diplomats.

I wasn’t that aware that he was precocious,” Darragh said. “He was my only child.”

Cruz attended high school at Faith West Academy in Katy, Texas, (a small city of 15,000, about 30 miles west of Houston) and later graduated from Second Baptist High School in Houston as valedictorian in 1988.

After high school, he enrolled in Princeton University.

While at Princeton, he competed for the American Whig-Cliosophic Society’s Debate Panel and won the top speaker award at both the 1992 U.S. National Debating Championship and the 1992 North American Debating Championship. In 1992, he was also named U.S. National Speaker of the Year and Team of the Year (with his debate partner, David Panton). Cruz was also a semi-finalist at the 1995 World Universities Debating Championship.

Cruz earned his A.B. in in Public and International Affairs and graduated cum laude from Princeton in 1992.


After graduating from Princeton, Cruz attended Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 1995. While at Harvard Law, Cruz was a primary editor of the Harvard Law Review, and executive editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, and a founding editor of the Harvard Latino Law Review.


Cruz served as a law clerk to J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 1995 and William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States in 1996. Cruz was the first Hispanic ever to clerk for a Chief Justice of the United States.

After Cruz finished his clerkships, he took a position with Cooper, Carvin & Rosenthal, now known as Cooper & Kirk, LLC, for almost two years from 1997 to 1998.

Less than a year into his practice, Cruz took the lead role in arguing Ford Motor Company’s appeal in a customs dispute before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He won.

In 1998, Cruz served as private counsel for Congressman John Boehner during Boehner’s lawsuit against Congressman Jim McDermott for releasing a tape recording of a Boehner telephone conversation. Boehner eventually won the case.

Cruz joined the Bush-Cheney campaign in 1999 as a domestic policy adviser, advising President George W. Bush on a wide range of policy and legal matters, including civil justice, criminal justice, constitutional law, immigration, and government reform.

Cruz assisted in assembling the Bush legal team, devise strategy, and draft pleadings in the Florida and U.S. Supreme Courts during the 2000 Florida presidential recounts, winning twice in the U.S. Supreme Court.

After President Bush took office, Cruz served as an associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department and as the director of policy planning at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

On January 9, 2003, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appointed Cruz to the office of Solicitor General of Texas. At 33 years old, he was the youngest solicitor general in American history. Cruz served in that position from 2003 to 2008.

The following year, Cruz accepted a teaching invitation by the University of Texas School of Law and served as an Adjunct Professor of Law teaching U.S. Supreme Court Litigation from 2004 until 2009.

Cruz has authored more than 80 United States Supreme Court briefs and presented 43 oral arguments, including nine before the United States Supreme Court.


In the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, Cruz drafted the amicus brief signed by attorneys general of 31 states, which said that the D.C. handgun ban should be struck down as infringing upon the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Cruz also presented oral argument for the amici states in the companion case to Heller before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In addition to his victory in Heller, Cruz has successfully defended the constitutionality of Ten Commandments monument on the Texas  State Capitol grounds before the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court, winning 5-4 in Van Orden v. Perry.

Cruz authored a U.S. Supreme Court brief for all 50 states successfully defending the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, winning 9-0 in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow.

Cruz served as lead counsel for the state and successfully defended the multiple litigation challenges to the 2003 Texas congressional redistricting plan in state and federal district courts and before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning 5-4 in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry.

Cruz also successfully defended, in Medellin v. Texas, the State of Texas against an attempt by the International Court of Justice to re-open the criminal convictions of 51 murderers on death row throughout the United States.


After leaving the Solicitor General position in 2008, he worked in a private law firm in Houston, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, often representing corporate clients, until he was sworn in as a U.S. Senator in 2013. At Morgan, Lewis, he led the firm’s U.S. Supreme Court and national appellate litigation practice.

At the firm, he successfully represented FedEx Home Delivery against the National Labor Relations Board in the District of Columbia Circuit on the issue of whether truck owner-operators are independent contractors or employees.

Disclosures show Cruz has earned $1.5 million to $1.7 million annually representing about 30 major corporations as a partner at Morgan Lewis, specializing in so-called “high stakes” corporate appeals.

Cruz’s election to the U.S. Senate has been described by the Washington Post as “the biggest upset of 2012 . . . a true grassroots victory against very long odds.” On January 19, 2011, after U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said she would not seek reelection, Cruz announced his candidacy.

In the Republican senatorial primary, Cruz ran against sitting Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. Cruz was endorsed by the Club for Growth, a fiscally conservative political action committee; Erick Erickson, editor of prominent conservative blog RedState; the FreedomWorks for America super PAC; nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin; former Attorney General Edwin Meese; Tea Party Express; Young Conservatives of Texas; and U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey.

Ted Cruz and Sarah PalinHe was also endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, George P. Bush and former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum.

Cruz won the runoff for the Republican nomination with a 14-point margin over Dewhurst. In the November 6 general election, Cruz faced Democrat Paul Sadler, an attorney and a former state representative from Henderson, in east Texas. Cruz won with 4.5 million votes (56.4%) to Sadler’s 3.2 million (40.6%) to become Texas’ junior senator; John Cornyn is currently the state’s senior Senator. Two minor candidates got the remaining 3% of the vote. Cruz got 40% of the Hispanic vote.


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