For a conservative Texan seeking national office, it could hardly get better than this: In a recent 48-hour span, Ted Cruz, a candidate for next year's Republican Senate nomination for the seat being vacated by Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, was endorsed by the Club for Growth PAC, FreedomWorks PAC, talk radio host Mark Levin and Erick Erickson of RedState.com. And Cruz's most conservative potential rival for the nomination decided to seek a House seat instead.
For conservatives seeking reinforcements for Washington's too-limited number of limited-government constitutionalists, it can hardly get better than this: Before earning a Harvard law degree magna cum laude (and helping found the Harvard Latino Law Review) and clerking for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Cruz's senior thesis at Princeton -- his thesis adviser was professor Robert George, one of contemporary conservatism's intellectual pinups -- was on the Constitution's Ninth and 10th Amendments. Then as now, Cruz argued that these amendments, properly construed, would buttress the principle that powers not enumerated are not possessed by the federal government. Utah's freshman Sen. Mike Lee, who clerked for Justice Sam Alito, has endorsed Cruz.
As Texas' solicitor general from 2003 to 2008, Cruz submitted 70 briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court and he has argued nine cases there. He favors school choice and personal investment accounts for a portion of individuals' Social Security taxes. He supports the latter idea, with a bow to the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who said such accounts enable the doorman to build wealth the way the people in the penthouse do. Regarding immigration, Cruz, 40, demands secure borders and opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, but echoes Ronald Reagan's praise of legal immigrants as "Americans by choice," people who are "crazy enough" to risk everything in the fundamentally entrepreneurial act of immigrating. He believes Hispanics are -- by reasons of faith, industriousness and patriotism -- natural Republicans. He says an Austin businessman observed, "When was the last time you saw a Hispanic panhandler?"
The Republican future without Hispanic support would be bleak. Forty-seven percent of Americans under 18 are minorities, and the largest portion are Hispanics. One in six Americans is Hispanic.
One in five Americans lives in California or Texas, and Texas is for Republicans what California is for Democrats -- the largest reliable source of electoral votes and campaign cash. In 2005, Texas became a majority-minority state; in five years Hispanics will be a plurality; in about two decades, immigration and fertility will make them a majority.
But, Cruz says, unlike California's Hispanics, those in Texas "show a willingness to be a swing vote." Furthermore, the three Hispanics elected to major offices in 2010 -- Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio, Nevada's Gov. Brian Sandoval and New Mexico's Gov. Susana Martinez -- are Republicans.
"It took Jimmy Carter to give us Ronald Reagan," says Cruz, who believes the reaction against President Obama will give the Republican Party a cadre of conservatives who take their bearings from constitutional law as it was before the New Deal judicial revolution attenuated limits on government. This cadre is arriving: Lee and Rubio were born seven days apart, and Cruz six months earlier. The parties' profiles are often drawn in the Senate. The Republican profile is becoming more Madisonian.