The Brief: Top Texas Headlines for July 23, 2013

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to LaRue Tactical employees and the press about gun rights on Feb. 19, 2013.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to LaRue Tactical employees and the press about gun rights on Feb. 19, 2013.

The Big Conversation

The latest churn of the presidential rumor mill has pundits wondering: How far could Ted Cruz go in 2016?

Cruz's trip to Iowa last weekend for an evangelical pastors conference wasn't the first time the freshman U.S. senator has stoked speculation about his presidential ambitions. But his visit to the crucial caucus state — where he won raves from several high-profile conservatives — has set off the most serious debate yet over how he would fare if he ran.

In Politico last week, Rich Yeselson called Cruz "the most compelling conservative political activist/intellectual since William F. Buckley" and a "formidable contender for the GOP nomination in 2016." Cruz has been dismissed as an extremist and has offended many of his colleagues, Yeselson wrote, but his style and smarts would easily find a fan base among Republican primary voters if he enters the race.

The Washington Examiner's Byron York echoed Yeselon's theory, writing that Cruz may appeal to Republicans who have already grown tired of other 2016 contenders like U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has taken heat for pushing immigration reform, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whom some Republicans still fault for praising President Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy.

Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast, however, thinks that while Cruz could win the GOP nomination, he would prove too conservative for a general electorate — and no match to potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

"Remember where you read it: If 2016 pits Clinton against Cruz, the Democrats will carry Georgia," Tomasky writes. "Yes, Georgia."

But in SalonJonathan Bernstein calls liberals' excitement about a Cruz candidacy misguided, writing that "a reputation for ideological extremism hurts," but not enough to damage an otherwise strong candidate.

"The bottom line … is that Ted Cruz is unlikely to drop more than a couple points to the Democratic nominee," Bernstein writes. "And that’s not likely to swing the election."

Culled

•    In wake of roller coaster death, U.S. senator calls for safety standards (Fort Worth Star-Telegram): "Declaring it’s a 'mistake' for the federal government to regulate baby strollers more stringently than roller coasters, a U.S. senator Monday called for national safety standards for amusement park rides after the death of a 52-year-old Dallas woman Friday at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said amusement park guests are assuming a huge risk because of the lack of federal regulations. He said enough accidents have occurred to warrant federal intervention, most recently Friday’s death of the woman who was tossed from the Texas Giant roller coaster."

•    Federal judge delays North Dakota abortion law (The Associated Press): "A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked a new North Dakota law that bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected — as early as six weeks into pregnancy, calling the law 'clearly invalid and unconstitutional.' U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland in Bismarck granted a temporary injunction Monday that blocks the Aug. 1 enactment of the law that abortion rights advocates call the most restrictive in the nation."

•    Federal court rules Farmers Branch rental ordinance unconstitutional (The Dallas Morning News): "The Farmers Branch ordinance barring people in the U.S. illegally from renting in the city is unconstitutional, an appeals court ruled for the second time Monday. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said the ordinance encroached on the federal government’s authority. Monday’s decision ended the city’s second appeal to the court, which had upheld the lower court’s ruling last year."

•    Life expectancy lags for rural residents in Texas (Austin American-Statesman): "In the 1980s, there was virtually no difference in life expectancy between residents of the state’s rural and urban areas, even as financial hardship forced the closure of more than 100 rural hospitals in Texas during that decade. Now, those who live in urban counties have a one-year edge in longevity for men and seven months for women — a gap that some experts said could grow in future years."

Quote to Note: "It’s like watching Richard Nixon follow Oprah’s playbook." — An Iowa Republican consultant, speaking to National Review about Ted Cruz's performance during his trip to Iowa over the weekend

Must-Read

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