The Brief: Texas Political News for Dec. 19, 2013

Senator Ted Cruz R-Texas speaks to press during a visit to Killeen Texas on December 3rd, 2013.
Senator Ted Cruz R-Texas speaks to press during a visit to Killeen Texas on December 3rd, 2013.

The Big Conversation

In a wide ranging interview with The Texas Tribune's Jay Root, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz refused to say whom he favored in the primary contest between John Cornyn and Steve Stockman, said he's working on renouncing his Canadian citizenship and had little to say about a potential run for the White House in 2016.

Overall, Root summed up Cruz as unapologetic at the end of his first year in office. "When it comes to the government shutdown, for example, Cruz said the fight helped crystallize the failures of the Affordable Care Act, while strengthening his resolve to repeal it," Root wrote. “'The proof is in the pudding,' he said. 'As a consequence of that fight, we elevated the national debate over the harms Obamacare is causing, and today President Obama has the lowest approval rating he has ever had, and the American public has turned strongly against Obamacare. The reason is simple. This thing isn’t working.'”

Root observed that Cruz "was perhaps the least talkative" when asked about the Senate primary contest between Cornyn and Stockman. Beyond saying that he liked both men, Cruz demurred when pressed to pick a favored candidate. “I’ve never liked it when Washington insiders try to pick winners and losers in Republican primaries,” Cruz told Root. “I think primaries should be decided by the grassroots in each state … I’m going to leave it to the voters of Texas to make that decision.”

On the lingering issue of his Canadian citizenship, Cruz said he's working on it. He has hired counsel and expects to have the matter resolved next year but is not sure exactly when. And on the 2016 question, Cruz would only say “100 percent of my focus is on the U.S. Senate,” adding that he respects the job done by Gov. Rick Perry, a potential rival on the road to the White House, in Texas.

 

Culled

•    Powers: Controversy Has Done "Significant Harm" to UT (The Texas Tribune): "University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers told a legislative panel on Wednesday that persistent controversy, largely stemming from the actions of a University of Texas System regent, has taken a toll on the university's reputation."

•    Case against University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall Jr. takes shape (Austin American-Statesman): "A University of Texas System regent operated outside the normal bounds of a regent’s duties in seeking a forensic analysis of a UT-Austin donor group’s computers, contacting a football coach’s agent and disputing a fundraising policy, according to testimony before a state legislative committee Wednesday."

•    Lawsuit hinted after council approves payday loan restrictions (Houston Chronicle): "The City Council overwhelmingly passed restrictions on payday and auto title lenders Wednesday, avoiding parliamentary maneuvers to delay the vote and calling on the state Legislature to follow suit. The vote was 15-2, with Councilwoman Helena Brown and Councilman James Rodriguez opposed."

•    Texas Windstorm Insurance Association official was racist, lawyer says (Austin American-Statesman): "A Texas Windstorm Insurance Association lawyer told a South Texas judge recently that one of the quasi-governmental agency’s top officials was a racist and his bigotry might have been a factor in denying claims made by a 98-percent minority school district that suffered damages from a storm."

•    Dallas Fed’s Richard Fisher talks about his role, the economy and the next Fed chief (The Dallas Morning News): "As the hawkish and candid president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Richard Fisher attracts attention. That will only intensify as he takes on a more visible role next year at a crucial time for the nation’s central bank and the economy. Fisher will become a voting member of the Federal Reserve’s 12-person policy-setting committee as the central bank’s leadership changes and it winds down its economic stimulus program."

Quote to Note: “Securing the border has become an excuse for outright abandonment of constitutional principles that protect our privacy and dignity. The hand of the government should never have unfettered power to invade our most intimate bodily spaces.” — ACLU of Texas staff attorney Adriana Piñon, on a suit filed in connection with a Dec. 12 search of a woman at a border stop in El Paso where it's alleged she was subjected to vaginal probes and a CT scan

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