The Brief: Texas Political News for Oct. 7, 2013

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at National Instruments in Austin on Aug. 22, 2013.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at National Instruments in Austin on Aug. 22, 2013.

The Big Conversation

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has again ratcheted up the tension in his ongoing quest to defund Obamacare.

Amid a government shutdown that Democrats, and even some Republicans, have blamed on Cruz, Texas' junior U.S. senator said on Sunday that he supports using the upcoming debt ceiling fight to again try to dismantle President Barack Obama's health care law.

In an appearance on CNN's State of the Union, Cruz said Republicans shouldn't support raising the country's borrowing limit — which the government will hit in 10 days — unless Obama agrees to GOP demands.

"We should look for ways to mitigate the harms from Obamacare," he said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, adding, "The debt ceiling historically has been among the best leverage that Congress has to rein in the executive."

Cruz also addressed flak he has received from both Republicans and Democrats, as well as Obama, who recently criticized freshman senators hoping to catch the national spotlight. 

"The president and certainly Harry Reid and Senate Democrats have not been shy and using all sorts of inflammatory attacks," Cruz said, adding, "The fact that you're seeing those attacks, I think, is indicative of the fact that we're winning the argument. Obamacare isn't working."

And asked whether he thought his crusade had hurt his party's popularity, Cruz said no.

"Not remotely," Cruz said. "But I also think far too many people are worried about politics."

Culled

•    Davis Tiptoes Around Government Shutdown (The Texas Tribune): "State Sen. Wendy Davis, in her first campaign swing as a candidate for governor, said Saturday that Texans are sick and tired of the bickering in Washington, D.C. — but she wouldn’t take sides in the ongoing government shutdown. 'People don’t want to see us getting into those kinds of squabbles,' Davis said when asked who should be blamed for the shutdown. 'They want to see us doing the work that we’ve been elected to do. And Texas, I think, has done a better job of that. I know people don’t want to see us be Washington, D.C.'"

•    Largely Unchecked, Tutors Got Millions Through Program (TT): "A Texas Tribune investigation has uncovered years of inaction by state officials while money flowed to tutoring companies, delivering few academic results and flouting state law. As companies racked up complaints — and school districts spent further resources investigating them — the state agency responsible for administering the program repeatedly claimed it had no authority to intervene."

•    U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, up for re-election in 2014, has released his first TV ad, a 30-second spot that touts his votes against Obamacare and his National Journal ranking as the second-most-conservative U.S. senator.

•    Cuccinelli shuns Cruz limelight (Politico): "That was awkward. In the clearest sign yet of the potent effect of the government shutdown on the Virginia governor’s race, Republican Ken Cuccinelli avoided being photographed with Ted Cruz at a gala they headlined here Saturday night—even leaving before the Texas senator rose to speak. Backstage, a source said, Cuccinelli urged Cruz to work with Democrats to end the federal shutdown. But he did not make that point, or even acknowledge Cruz, in short public comments to some 1,100 social conservatives."

•    Rick Perry: California's bad on every front. Vote for me? (Los Angeles Times): "Just for the record, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said midway through a 27-minute criticism of California, he wasn’t in Anaheim to criticize California. That might have come off a tad hollow, given that Perry had already asserted that the state comes in a distant second to his by almost every measure imaginable — tax rates, poverty levels, business growth, even freedom, by the governor’s sights. 'The purpose of my visit is not to bash California,' he said on the first day of the state Republican Party convention. 'This is a wonderful state with great innovative people.” But, he said, the very “future of the nation” depended on a blunt conversation about which course was best: California’s 'big government, protectionist, nanny state' or Texas' 'limited-government, unsubsidized, freedom state.'"

•    Today is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 5 constitutional amendment election. Early voting begins Oct. 21.

Quote to Note: "I’ve been counted out before and I’ve always risen to a win. I plan on doing it this time." — Wendy Davis in an interview with The Dallas Morning News on Friday

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