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Cruz followed the road paved by other tea party-backed candidates, getting early help from enthusiastic conservative activists and going on to best an establishment Republican. For Cruz, that meant defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who had 14 years' experience in state government, in the primary runoff.
"It was a victory for grass-roots conservatives all over the state," Cruz told Fox News after the win. "And it was . . . the way elections are supposed to be decided. They are supposed to be decided not by a handful of people in the dark room writing checks and picking the next nominee. But they are supposed to be decided by we the people and it was thousands and thousands of Republican women and tea party leaders and grass-roots activist that generated our victory."
But Cruz isn't new to government service. A Cuban-American, he was the first Hispanic solicitor general in Texas and the youngest person to hold that position in any state. He also became the first Hispanic clerk for the Chief Justice of the United States when he worked for William H. Rehnquist.
Cruz ticks the appropriate boxes on the smaller government checklist, having called for the abolition of some federal agencies, including the Department of Education, passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, repeal of the 2010 health care overhaul and enactment of a flat income tax. He demonstrated solidarity with social conservatives at his election night victory party, serving food from Chick-fil-A.
Like many tea party conservatives, Cruz argues that there is a fundamental disconnect between Americans and Washington, a gap he wants to bridge.
"At the end of the day, there are sort of twin worlds," Cruz said. "There is the world of Washington and the Beltway and then there's the rest of the country. The spectrum in Washington you've got career politicians in both parties that have been going along to get along a long, long time. And that's how we've gotten a national debt of $16 trillion, larger than the gross domestic product."
Cruz' father immigrated from Cuba to Austin in 1957 and attended the University of Texas; his mother was the first in her family to attend college. Both worked their way through school, and from them, Cruz says, he learned the value of education and hard work, as well as creating the opportunity for anyone to succeed.
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