A Wife Committed to Cruz’s Ideals, but a Study in Contrasts to Him

10/24/13
 
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by ASHLEY PARKER,

from The New York Times,
10/24/13:

Ted Cruz & wife Heidi Nelson Cruz

At first glance, Senator Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi Nelson Cruz, seems to be just the sort of person the Tea Party supporters who celebrate her husband’s anti-establishment positions love to hate.

A vegetarian with a Harvard M.B.A., Mrs. Cruz is a managing director at Goldman Sachs, one of the Wall Street firms that helped set off the populist rage that ushered Mr. Cruz into the Senate in 2012. She works for Goldman in Houston, where she lives with the couple’s two young children, and as her husband’s fame has increased — depending on the audience, he is among the most pilloried or revered members of the Senate — she has maintained a low profile.

“I think it works really well for our family for us both to have careers, and I know what my commitments are to Goldman,” Mrs. Cruz, 41, said in an interview last week in her husband’s Senate office. “I think it’s also really good for our girls to have me at home with them.”

Yet the fallout from her husband’s role in the Congressional fiscal showdown this month did not spare Mrs. Cruz, one half of what she calls “a great team.” And it was the Democrats who seemed to be making her background an issue.

As her husband helped force a government shutdown over his opposition to President Obama’s health care law and argued that members of Congress and their staffs should be forced to buy insurance without any government contribution, the Democrats sensed an opening.

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, tried to push Mr. Cruz into admitting that he was on his wife’s blue-chip Goldman health plan — a sign of hypocrisy, he implied.

And if her husband was evasive about where he got his health coverage, Mrs. Cruz was blunt.

“Ted is on my health care plan,” said Mrs. Cruz, who has worked in Goldman’s investment management division for eight years.

Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for the senator, confirmed the coverage, which Goldman said was worth at least $20,000 a year. “The senator is on his wife’s plan, which comes at no cost to the taxpayer and reflects a personal decision about what works best for their family,” she said.

Mrs. Cruz, both personally and professionally, is a complex study in contrasts to her husband. She describes herself as instinctively collaborative, and her husband as a man of big, fearless ideas — a seemingly polite way of saying that, yes, Mr. Cruz breaks a few pieces of china every now and then.

“Ted is very much a visionary,” she said. “He is very strategic, and he’s very practical, and he does what needs to be done, not what everybody wants him to do.”

Those who know Mrs. Cruz say that she is less ideological than her husband. During the Bush administration, where she worked first in the United States trade representative’s office and later in the Treasury Department and on the National Security Council, she was known as more of an analytical thinker than a partisan zealot. “Nothing in her background remotely approached Ted’s Scalia-like conservatism, … and they’re both extremely bright — and in conservative principles and ambition, but absent Ted, I don’t think Heidi would be moving in that particular branch of the Republican Party.”

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