Cruz was born in Canada while his parents were there working in the oil fields. He refuses to say if he holds dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship.
Cruz became a debate champion while at Princeton and has a law degree from Harvard. His fiery, populist oratory made him a grassroots favorite and he spent than two years shaking hands with pastors during Bible study groups at Denny's, chatting up Republican women’s gatherings around the state, and attending dozens of candidate forums Dewhurst skipped.
Dewhurst had the support of the state’s conservative establishment, including popular Republican Gov. Rick Perry, had overseen the state Senate since 2003, and poured more than $20 million of his own personal fortune into his campaign.
It wasn’t enough. Cruz convinced tea party activists that his opponent was a closet moderate because Dewhurst sometimes comprised with Democrats in the state Legislature to get key bills approved.
Cruz’s primary win vaulted him into the national spotlight. He spoke at the Republican National Convention and became a regular on national political talk shows. He has since moved hard to the center and mended fences with the Texas Republican mainstream — even attending fundraisers with Dewhurst and Perry.
Cruz is the first Hispanic from Texas to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
Virginia Sen.-elect Tim Kaine almost stumbled into politics, but reached elite levels in the Democratic Party nationally with a diverse partisan pedigree.
The son of an Overland Park, Kan., ironworker, Kaine easily could have become a Republican. At Harvard Law School, he met the daughter of A. Linwood Holton, Virginia’s first GOP governor since Reconstruction. They married and moved to Richmond, Va.
‘‘For me, bipartisanship begins at home,’’ Kaine says at nearly every public appearance.
Beliefs forged of his Roman Catholic upbringing and a year as a missionary in Honduras led him into a law practice focused on civil rights, and that morphed into Democratic politics. He won a Richmond City Council seat in 1994 and served as mayor for a term.
He entered statewide politics unexpectedly only after state Sen. Emily Couric, the sister of Katie Couric, was forced to abandon her bid for lieutenant governor after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Kaine took her spot on the Democratic ticket and was elected in 2001. Four years later, he was elected to succeed fellow Democrat Mark Warner, making Kaine Virginia’s first Catholic governor.
In February 2007, Kaine hitched his future to the longshot presidential bid of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and became the first statewide elected official outside Obama’s home state Illinois to endorse him.
The morning after Obama’s 2008 election, Kaine huddled with a gaggle of reporters on the Virginia Capitol lawn and, when asked what positions he'd consider in Obama’s administration, flatly ruled out serving as Democratic National Committee chairman. Less than two months later, he began a two-year stretch in that very position, one of those years shared with final year as governor.
Kaine had intended to stay in the job through Obama’s first term, but when Democratic Sen. Jim Webb announced he would not seek re-election in February 2011, Kaine faced heavy pressure from within his party to run against another former governor, Republican George Allen, and keep the seat — and possibly control of the Senate — in Democratic hands.
With Obama’s blessing, Kaine handed his DNC duties over to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and began reassembling the campaign team from his 2005 gubernatorial victory.
Ironically, Kaine capitalized on partisan gridlock in Congress to portray Allen as a brutish, uncompromising partisan who once exhorted fellow Republicans to knock the Democrats’ ‘‘soft teeth down their whiny throats.’’
Tammy Baldwin is used to firsts. And while her victory in Wisconsin’s Senate race doesn’t break ground for Democrats — the seat has been under their control since 1957 — it does mark the first time the state has elected a woman to the Senate. She is also the first openly gay candidate ever elected to the Senate.
In 1998, she became the first woman from Wisconsin elected to the U.S. House.
Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who many people thought would walk away with the Senate race given his deep connection with Wisconsin and voters after serving as a popular governor for 14 years.
Baldwin ran a disciplined and well-funded campaign, turning the tide on the race in the weeks after the mid-August Republican primary that Thompson won but left his campaign broke and him admittedly exhausted.Continued...