Who is Heidi Cruz? The high-powered Goldman Sachs executive and wife to ‘disgraced’ Texas senator Ted Cruz

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Alice Hutton
·4 min read
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Goldman Sachs executive Heidi Cruz, pictured in 2016 on Fox News during her husband Ted Cruz’s unsuccessful presidential run.  (Getty Images)
Goldman Sachs executive Heidi Cruz, pictured in 2016 on Fox News during her husband Ted Cruz’s unsuccessful presidential run. (Getty Images)

Heidi Cruz, the wife of Texas senator Ted Cruz, is reportedly on the hunt for the neighbour who leaked her text messages about their much criticised trip to Cancun during a snow-storm that left thousands without heat or electricity.

“Ritz Carlton Cancun $309 plus tax,” she allegedly wrote in messages passed to The New York Times last week, that demonstrated the family was planning to violate government guidelines and the recommendations of her own husband.

They were later photographed on the beach in Mexico.

But who is the 48-year-old mother of two, who, like nearly all spouses of male politicians, is frequently referred to not by name but as his “lovely wife”?

In 2000, when the pair met whilst working on George W Bush’s presidential campaign before marrying the next year and moving into government positions, Heidi Nelson wasn’t necessarily destined to be window dressing to someone else’s ambitions.

She was born in 1972 in San Luis Obispo, California, to two Seventh-day adventist dentists who worked as missionaries in Kenya, Nigeria and throughout Asia.

When she was 12, she reportedly read an article in TIME magazine about the 1980 presidential election and started to set her sights on a job in government.

After graduating from a liberal arts college she attended Harvard Business School, going on to work as a US trade deputy in the White House and then as director of the Treasury’s Latin American desk, teaching herself Spanish.

By 2003 she was appointed to her ‘dream job’ as director of the Western Hemisphere, reported to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and was considered a “rising star”, according to Buzzfeed.

But Cruz’s husband, who famously insisted that they play A Whole New World from Disney’s Aladdin at their wedding instead of hiring a violinist, had not been so successful in his own career and left Washington for Austin and a role as Texas’ solicitor-general.

By 2004, following two years of long-distance marriage, she made the 1,523-mile move, and took a job at Merrill Lynch, now Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, and later Goldman Sachs, where she worked an 80-hour week as the family’s “bread-winner” and cared for their two daughters, now aged 12 and 9-years-old.

A role she later conceded on a 2011 panel called ‘Women in Finance: Can You Achieve Work/Life Satisfaction?’ was possible only with the aid of live-in help.

In a 2018 profile in The Atlantic, Cruz revealed that she suffered a mental health breakdown over the move and loss of her own political ambitions and was found in 2005 by a police officer, crouched by the side of the road.

She told the magazine: “It was, like, all of this—like, ‘Why am I here? And by the way, I gave up living where my family is to come here, so that I could sit on [the] 290 freeway every week to go work for a company that’s actually headquartered in New York, and I could be in headquarters if I wasn’t here with you.’ I think my spirit just fell to a low place.”

Getty Images
Getty Images

When her husband, who won the Texas Senate seat in 2013, ran unsuccessfully for president in 2015, she took an unpaid break from Goldman to campaign and became his “not so secret weapon”, winning over voters and donors with her charm, and throwing off a high-profile attempt by Donald Trump to troll her on Twitter.

“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.”

She was not without her missteps, however, including when she compared her husband’s run for the White House to the fight to end slavery.

But she remained popular. In 2016, The Washington Post even compared her ‘high powered” role to that of Hillary Clinton, who was running her own presidential campaign at the time, and wrote that “...few since Clinton...have demonstrated, as Heidi Cruz has, the kind of political talent and experience of her own to prompt speculation among those who hear her speak that she, too, could someday be a formidable candidate”.

Fast forward to 2021 and her husband Ted Cruz appeared on the conservative podcast, Ruffled, this week to discuss the fall-out from their trip to Cancun and his wife being photographed on the beach in her bikini.

He said: “Heidi is smoking hot, so I looked at the pictures and said, ‘Man, you look great.’”

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