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The Brief: Sept. 29, 2015

GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz took to the floor of the U.S. Senate for an hour on Monday night to again criticize the leadership of his party and to expand the scope of his criticism to include Texas' senior Senator, John Cornyn.

Sen. Ted Cruz speaking at a the Stop The Iran Nuclear Deal protest  in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on Septem…

The Big Conversation

GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz took to the floor of the U.S. Senate for an hour on Monday night to again criticize the leadership of his party and to expand the scope of his criticism to include outgoing House Speaker John Boehner and Texas' senior Senator, John Cornyn.

Cruz, wrote the Tribune's Abby Livingston, "specifically called out Cornyn, along with a handful of other senior Republican senators, for voting down a Cruz amendment targeting funding for Planned Parenthood and the Iran nuclear weapons deal via voice vote. In contrast, Cruz cast himself and conservative senators and House members who frequently vote with him as the only elected members performing their jobs with the will of the American public in mind."

The speech, which was given to a nearly empty Senate chamber, was filled with several cultural references, a rhetorical device similar to his famous 2013 filibuster during which he read from Dr. Seuss.

Cruz's renewed assault on his party's leadership comes as his campaign pursues an "unconventional in modern Republican politics" strategy toward collecting delegates in March's Texas primary.

The campaign, as Livingston writes, is looking to maximize delegate counts rather than the traditional strategy of winning states. The Cruz gambit is helped by the fact that his home state of Texas will award its delegates on a proportional basis and that it is the biggest prize among the raft of presidential nominating contest set to take place across the South on March 1.

"We’re working ... to do everything possible to bank those 155 [Texas] delegates on March 1," Cruz's chief strategist, Jason Johnson, told Livingston. "If we’re able to do so, the odds are that Ted is the conservative standing after March 15 to square off against whoever the establishment candidate is at that point."

Trib Must Reads

Cane Eradication Funds Lost in Political Thicket, by Julián Aguilar – Carrizo cane sprouts along the banks of the Rio Grande, providing easy cover for smugglers and drug mules. A new state law says it should be eradicated, but lawmakers neglected to set aside any money for razing cane.

Analysis: The Hard Way to Win a Speaker's Race, by Ross Ramsey – Anti-establishment Republicans have tried three times to knock House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, out of the top job. Now they're entering an election season nearly five dozen votes short of what they need.

Bedford Pastor to Challenge Stickland in Primary, by Patrick Svitek – A Bedford pastor plans to announce Monday he is challenging state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a Tea Party firebrand also from Bedford. 

Farenthold Ethics Box Score; One Win, One Loss, by Abby Livingston – The House Ethics Committee will continue investigating sexual harassment allegations against U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, even though another Congressional investigative arm recommended the matter be dismissed. 

Another Key Perry Backer Heads to Bush Campaign, by Patrick Svitek – Austin Barbour is the latest ally of the Texas' longest-serving governor to throw his support behind ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the presidential race.   

Fiorina Allies Announce Texas Leadership Teamby Patrick Svitek – Allies of former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on Monday named more than two dozen Texas Republicans who are supporting her presidential bid.

Weber Sixth Texas Congressman to Endorse Cruz, by Patrick Svitek – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential campaign has secured its sixth congressional endorsement from Texas, landing the support of U.S. Rep. Randy Weber of Friendswood.

Analysis: Dancing With Those Who Brung Ya, by Ross Ramsey – Splitting the majority party in the House of Representatives leaves a potential speaker with two routes to the top. Lawmakers did it one way in Texas and another way in Washington, D.C.

Hensarling Rules Out Bid for U.S. House Leadership Post, by Abby Livingston – U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, who did not immediately rule out a bid for U.S. House speaker after John Boehner announced he was leaving, will not run for a leadership position. 

Plano Forum to Draw At Least 4 White House Hopefuls, by Patrick Svitek – At least four presidential candidates are scheduled to come to Texas next month to participate in a forum at one of the state's largest megachurches. 

King Announces Run for Fraser Seat, by Patrick Svitek – State Rep. Susan King plans to announce Monday that she is running to replace state Sen. Troy Fraser in Senate District 24.  

The Day Ahead

Attorney General Ken Paxton and state Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, are among the leaders expected at "The Texas Response: Pastors, Marriage, & Religious Freedom," hosted by the First Baptist Church of Pflugerville. They are scheduled to help lead a conversation beginning at 6:30 p.m. on the state’s “pastor protection law” and same-sex marriage.

Elsewhere

Asians expected to outpace Hispanics among U.S. immigrants, Houston Chronicle

E-mails: State official privately derided tech firm while publicly promoting itHouston Chronicle

Ahmed’s celebrity tour goes global as family heads to QatarThe Dallas Morning-News 

Senate Backs Spending Measure to Avert Shutdown, The New York Times

Congressional probe clears Farenthold in harassment caseHouston Chronicle

House Leadership: Hensarling Bows Out, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Race to replace Sen. Troy Fraser heats upAustin American-Statesman

Battles ramp up for local House seats, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Texas' cancer-research agency survived a scandal. Now, it hopes to prove it's workingThe Dallas Morning-News 

Better Know Your Ballot: The Proposition 1 Homestead Exemption, KUT

Quote to Note

"There are no mystical powers that allow you to roll over that. But in the House we still got 30, 40, 50 strong conservatives."

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on being denied a roll call vote in the Senate after speaking for an hour Monday night 

Today in TribTalk

Without Texas leadership, EPA must act on methane, by Cyrus Reed — If our state leaders wanted to, they could produce better methane standards that work for all Texans, including the communities that have to breathe the pollution the oil and gas industry creates. I’m not holding my breath though.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation on Criminal Justice: The Next Five Years on Oct. 6 in Huntsville

•    A Conversation on God & Governing on Oct. 7 in Austin

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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