The Brief: Texas Political News for Oct. 14, 2013

World War II veteran Richard Overton of Austin, 107, accepts an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Aug. 22, 2013.
World War II veteran Richard Overton of Austin, 107, accepts an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Aug. 22, 2013.

The Big Conversation

While fiscal negotiations inched forward over the weekend, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz held the spotlight.

On Sunday, as talks to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling picked up a modicum of momentum in the Senate, the state's junior senator joined former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a rally on the National Mall to protest the closure of the World War II memorial during the government shutdown.

"Let me ask a simple question," Cruz told a crowd of hundreds, according to The Associated Press. "Why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep veterans out of this memorial?"

Some of the protesters later placed the metal barricades from the memorial in front of the White House.

Cruz, meanwhile, reiterated that he would not back down from his fight to defund Obamacare, an effort that gave rise to the impasse that partially shut down the federal government this month.

On Friday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, Cruz urged House Republicans to remain united in their opposition to funding the president's health care law.

"None of us knows what is going to happen on this Obamacare fight right now," he told the audience. "In my view, the House of Representatives needs to keep doing what it’s doing, which is standing strong."

"The Democrats are feeling the heat," he added.

Several hecklers in the audience stood during Cruz's speech to try to derail him, but he retorted each time with lines that delighted the adoring crowd.

"I’m actually glad that the president’s whole political staff is here instead of actually doing mischief in the country," Cruz said at one point.

The audience rewarded Cruz with a victory at the summit's presidential straw poll, which was held Saturday. Cruz won 42 percent of the vote, followed by neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum with 13 percent. 

Culled

•    GOP lieutenant governor candidates feud over issues, manhood (Austin American-Statesman): "The road show of Republicans wanting to become Texas’ next lieutenant governor came to Austin on Friday, looking more like 'The Jerry Springer Show' at times as the four candidates accused each other of lying and feuded over an assortment of issues — even their manhood. The forum was a statewide conference of the Texas Municipal League, a trade group of mayors and city officials who reacted to the feisty midday panel discussion at the Austin Convention Center with their hands and their feet. The candidates drew light applause, but a large portion of the audience walked out before the debate was over, with some saying they were disgusted by the bickering."

•    Kinky Friedman to Run for Ag Commissioner as a Democrat (The Texas Tribune): "Singer, songwriter, novelist, humorist and former independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman will run for the Democratic nomination to be the state's next agriculture commissioner. A formal announcement is expected on Monday."

•    Source: Texas officials 'really paranoid' Longhorns will lose 'war' to A&M on, off field (The Dallas Morning News): "University of Texas movers and shakers began congregating Friday in Dallas, with president Bill Powers planning to use Texas-OU weekend to strategize about UT’s athletic director search. … A high-level UT source says the university’s decision-makers are increasingly preoccupied with Texas A&M. The source said there is a palpable sense that Aggies successes since moving to the Southeastern Conference last year have raised the ante for Texas. 'What they are concerned about is not just a football season or a football team,' the source said. 'What they’re concerned about is that we’re going to lose this kind-of war to A&M. They are really paranoid about A&M. “And not just in sports, by the way.'"

Quote to Note: "I'm in favor of expulsion. New York, California, and there's some good people in New York and California, but their legislatures aren't representing them." — Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, joking to The Associated Press that those two states, as well as Connecticut and Massachusetts, should be kicked out of the union

Must-Read

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