By Curt Anderson,

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas will announce he is running for president of the United States during an appearance Monday at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

The Republican Cruz, a tea party favorite, will launch an outright bid for the White House rather than form an exploratory committee, the Chronicle said, citing senior advisers with direct knowledge of Cruz’s plans.

Cruz will be the featured speaker Monday at Liberty University’s student convocation, according to the Chronicle report, which also said senior advisers to Cruz told the newspaper the senator will run as an unabashed conservative and present himself as an alternative to the “mushy middle” he has criticized during stops the past two months in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Cruz has been a controversial figure since he entered the Senate following his election in 2012. His pressure on Congressional leadership in September 2013 not to fund the government unless President Barack Obama’s health care law was defunded led to a 16-day government shutdown. That showdown included a 21-hour filibuster of the spending bill by Cruz on the Senate floor.

During an appearance March 15 in Barrington, N.H., Cruz told supporters to “stay tuned” for news about his plans to enter the race for president. At that stop, he also called for unlimited campaign contributions, equating the flow of money to free speech, and he reiterated calls for the abolition of Common Core and the Internal Revenue Service.

At a dinner earlier this month in Lincoln, N.H., Cruz called the grassroots support he has received in the state and nationwide “breathtaking.”