It's the story of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). This week, it's also the story of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Warren has emerged as the torchbearer of the liberal resistance on Capitol Hill to a $1.01 trillion bill to fund the government, which is facing the threat of a shutdown once again. The last time this happened, it was Cruz leading a crusade to try to use a spending bill to weaken the federal health-care law, even if it meant a shutdown, which it did.
There are some striking similarities between Cruz and Warren. There are also, obviously, some sharp differences. Both have loyal national followings yearning for them to run for president. Both are still relative Senate newbies elected in 2012. Both are viewed as leaders on the issues that move the political left and right, respectively.
But one key distinction is how far they are willing to push their opposition efforts. Another is how they are viewed by party leaders.
While Cruz launched a marathon anti-Obamacare filibuster on the Senate floor in 2013 and built enough support for his cause to actually shut down the government temporarily, there is no evidence yet that Warren is willing to go quite that far.
Asked repeatedly during a press conference Wednesday whether she would block the funding bill on the Senate floor, Warren repeatedly sidestepped the questions, insisting that her pressure was aimed squarely at the lower chamber to ensure the bill doesn't ever make it to the Senate in its current form.
"Right now, the fight is in the House," said Warren, who was flanked by several House Democrats. "That's the fight we are going to pursue."
Indeed, Cruz has used similar tactics. He whipped votes against House Speaker John A. Boehner's border bill earlier this year.
Such brazen opposition is part of the reason Cruz has earned many GOP critics, even as conservative activists embrace him as royalty. Warren has not drawn that level of resentment from leading Democrats -- at least, not yet.
There are no signs that she is bickering with party leadership in Washington the way Cruz has sparred with GOP leaders. And part of her populist message has been embraced, at least in general terms, by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party's presumed presidential frontrunner.
Warren's opposition to the spending bill lies in a provision that makes a key change to the landmark "Dodd-Frank" law designed to police Wall Street banks in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The bill would ease some risk for the banks by reversing a requirement that some derivatives trading fall into separate units that do not have access to deposit insurance.
Economic populism is precisely the reason Warren is so well-liked in her party right now. Her growing influence is a testament to rising concerns among Democrats about income inequity, regulation of Wall Street banks, the minimum wage and the notion that not everyone is getting a fair shake.
And so, much like Cruz, Warren's reputation is built on resistance. Her central cause has been ensuring Wall Street banks don't abuse their power at the expense of everyday consumers. Cruz's fight has been against the Obama administration, which he has accused of overreaching in many ways.
But it is the extent of that resistance that could ultimately distinguish the two from one another. Even if he hasn't made much noise so far this month, Cruz has shown in the past he is willing to go all out for his causes -- damn the torpedoes. Warren's tipping point will be tested this week, with many Democrats urging colleagues to pass the spending bill and avoid yet another last-minute conflict.
Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.), who enthusiastically supports the bill, told The Washington Post it is about as good a deal as Democrats may see for a while, with Republicans set to assume control of both chambers of Congress.
"I'm telling Democrats they should take what they can get while they can get it," said Moran, who was one of 70 Democrats who voted last year for the Dodd-Frank change Warren opposes.
The House is expected to vote on the bill later Thursday. If it passes, it will go to the Senate. And we'll learn soon whether Warren's Senate path will follow the Cruz roadmap or not.