Tea party favorite Ted Cruz will be sworn in Thursday as the first Hispanic to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate.
A Cuban-American and former state solicitor general, Cruz is more fiercely conservative than the woman he is replacing, fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Dallas.
A Houston attorney and former Ivy League debating champion, Cruz was virtually unknown when he announced his candidacy.
But he used strong grassroots support to upset Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst during a July runoff election for the GOP senatorial nomination.
Cruz then trounced Democrat and former state Rep. Paul Sadler in November's general election.
He could be poised to become a rising star among Capitol Hill conservatives, especially given the retirement of tea party leader U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina.