What Happened When Heidi Cruz’s Life Didn’t Go As Planned

She had her future mapped out when she met Ted Cruz. Things change.

heidi cruz
Republican Presidential Candidate, Senator Ted Cruz, and his wife, Heidi Cruz. (Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)
ABC via Getty Images

Heidi Nelson met Ted Cruz on Christmas break from Harvard Business School in 2000, when they were both working on George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. She told The Atlantic it was “love at first sight.”

Since she became Ted’s wife, Heidi Cruz has helped see her husband through roles as Texas solicitor general, U.S. senator, and, most recently, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. They had two children, and Heidi remained the family breadwinner, until 2015, when she took unpaid leave from her job so she could campaign for her husband. Though her husband remains one of the most polarizing figures in American politics, Heidi makes friends wherever she goes.

“Everyone loves Heidi,” a prominent Houston Democrat told The Atlantic. “Every time I talk to her I think, You should be running for office, not your husband.”

Now, Ted Cruz is in the middle of another intense campaign, this time against Beto O’Rourke, a liberal vying for Cruz’s Senate seat. The Atlantic talked to Heidi about politics, the president’s jabs about her looks, and how she maintains a self of self in a community that defines her in relation to her husband.

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