In the three years since he arrived in the U.S. Senate, Ted Cruz has become easily the most hated man in Washington—a fact he’s now using to his advantage as a presidential candidate. But why?
Is it true, as Cruz would have it, that the dreaded GOP establishment pays lip service to shrinking the federal government and repealing Obamacare, but actually would prefer to preserve the status quo? Is it simply personal animosity? Or do Cruz’s Beltway critics have a point?
Cruz hasn’t hesitated to take polarizing stances, even when doing so means taking on his Republican colleagues. Last October, for example, a criminal-justice reform bill came before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, which would give judges more flexibility in sentencing and add rehabilitative services to prisons, is a product of the increasing bipartisan movement to reform the criminal-justice system, which is supported by such disparate actors as the Koch brothers and the ACLU. And it’s the baby of Senator Mike Lee, the Tea Party-supported Utahn, who’s emerged as one of the most passionate conservative advocates for reform.
Lee is also Cruz’s best friend—maybe his only friend—in the Senate. In his memoir, Cruz writes that no one stood by him “more courageously or indispensably” than Lee during his 21-hour anti-Obamacare speech that preceded the 2013 government shutdown. The pair have a joint fundraising committee and have posed together with a tiger-skin rug.