• Democrats’ Biggest 2014 Weapon: Ted Cruz (Time): "Democratic strategists plan to 'aggressively' tie Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to all Republicans next year in an attempt to scare away moderate voters, party officials say. 'Die-hard Republicans will consider him their best surrogate, and we consider him our best surrogate too,' says Democratic National Committee spokesman Mike Czin. 'Wherever he goes now, I think he’s a political liability for all Republicans.'"
• Tea party activist jumps into GOP contest for governor in Texas (The Dallas Morning News): "A tea party activist and frequent guest on Fox News has entered the race for governor in Texas, offering an alternative on the right of frontrunner Greg Abbott. Lisa Fritsch, an author and conservative radio host from Austin, announced Tuesday at a hamburger restaurant in Austin that she is seeking the GOP nomination in next year’s gubernatorial primary."
• Senator: Shutdown halts probe of West, Texas, blast (San Antonio Express-News): "U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the federal shutdown has stopped all safety investigations in their tracks, including the investigation of the explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas."
• Prosecutor in Perry probe seeks investigator, researcher (Austin American-Statesman): "The special prosecutor in an ongoing investigation into whether Gov. Rick Perry violated state law by vetoing funding for the Travis County ethics-enforcement unit is seeking to hire an investigator and researcher, the first public hint the probe is moving forward past its initial stage."
New in The Texas Tribune
• Public Perception is a Major Challenge for the University of Houston: "For University of Houston President Renu Khator, the biggest challenge in her ongoing effort to raise the institution's reputation may be the public perception that it is merely a commuter campus in the middle of a dangerous urban area."
• Conservative Officials Turn to Crowdsourcing: "Republicans in Texas have recently used crowdsourcing initiatives to gather public opinion and engage with Texans. Political scientists say that while such efforts present opportunities to connect with voters, they tend to miss the mark in helping candidates gain new supporters."
• Inside Intelligence: About That Shutdown...: "For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in politics and government, we asked about the politics of the federal government shutdown and the federal Affordable Care Act."
• The public education track at the Texas Tribune Festival featured panel discussions about early childhood education, charter schools, innovations in teaching and the future of public schools. You can hear the sessions here.