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The Brief: Oct. 28, 2015

As the leading contenders to become the Republican nominee for president meet this evening in Boulder for the third presidential debate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has as much on the line as anyone tonight.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at the CNN Presidential Debate in Simi Valley, California on Sept. 16, 2015.

The Big Conversation

As the leading contenders to become the Republican nominee for president meet this evening in Boulder, Colo., for the third presidential debate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has as much on the line as anyone tonight.

The press scrutiny has, if anything, increased in advance of tonight's showdown. Politico showcased a one-on-one with Cruz on Tuesday morning that had the candidate talking confidently about being able to unify the various conservative factions behind him. "The evangelical lane, the conservative tea party lane, and the libertarian lane are all collapsing into the conservative lane," Cruz told Politico, "and we’re seeing those lanes unify behind our campaign."

The Washington Post ran a blog item later on Tuesday with this provocative headline: "FACT: Ted Cruz is running the best campaign of any presidential candidate." The Post's Chris Cillizza wrote, "Cruz has become, for both parties' establishments, the living, breathing symbol of everything that's wrong with Washington. That image, of course, works to Cruz's great advantage with a Republican presidential primary electorate that loathes the nation's capital and everyone who makes their living there."

The Tribune's Patrick Svitek this morning, meanwhile, has a handy, five-point checklist on what might constitute a successful evening for Cruz. Among the things to look for? Cruz sharpening the differences between him and the rest of the field, particularly Donald Trump. Cruz establishing himself as the "outsider candidate" with the best credentials. And striking while the iron is hot to raise beaucoup bucks after the Boulder encounter.

The 7 p.m. debate, which will be hosted by CNBC, is expected to focus mainly on jobs and the economy.

Trib Must Reads

Cattle Theft Still a Modern-Day Problem in Texas, by Julián Aguilar and Miles Hutson – Last week's alert that more than 100 steer vanished from a farm in Waco didn't surprise farmers and ranchers. In 2014, the total market value of stolen livestock and ranching equipment in Texas reached an nine-year high. 

Analysis: Republicans, Party of Two, by Ross Ramsey – When one party overwhelms the two-party system, it tends to develop into a two-faction party. That's the case with the Texas Republican Party — as you can see by who the speaker of the Texas House and the lieutenant governor are backing in the presidential race. 

Houston Ordinance Vote is Test for LGBT Advocates, by Alexa Ura – After months of heated campaigning, Houston voters will have the final word next week on an embattled nondiscrimination ordinance, a big test for Texas gay rights activists.

House Votes to Reauthorize Export-Import Bank, by Abby Livingston – With more Republicans joining the cause — including six Texans — the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 313-118, on Tuesday to reauthorize the controversial Export-Import Bank of the United States. 

Hispanic Conservatives Blast Trump, Watching Cruz, by Patrick Svitek – Declaring Donald Trump anathema to the Latino community, Hispanic conservative leaders issued a stern warning Tuesday to other Republican presidential candidates who adopt the billionaire's hardline immigration views.

Judge Moves "Bernie" Trial to Neighboring County, by Johnathan Silver – Convicted murderer Bernie Tiede's new sentencing trial will be moved from Carthage — where he killed 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent nearly two decades ago — to Henderson, in a neighboring East Texas county.  

Brady Expands on Pitch to Be Ways and Means Chair, by Abby Livingston – The U.S. House committee that writes the tax code needs a leader "who has a proven record working throughout the conference on the big issues," U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady says. The Woodlands Republican says he fits the bill.

Elsewhere

Congress and White House Reach Tentative Budget Deal, The New York Times

HHSC investigates $68 million contract. Austin American-Statesman

Flood damage could hit $3B, Houston Chronicle

Stone work at Alamo reveals 1700s opening, San Antonio Express-News

Texas sheriff faces lawsuit over federal immigration holds, The Associated Press

New undercover video accuses TX doc of violating partial-birth abortion ban, medical experts disagree, The Dallas Morning-News

Planned Parenthood case in Texas is on federal officials’ radar, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

"It came up during the session and it didn't have enough votes to pass during the session. But there's going to be several open election seats during the course of the election cycle and we need to put people into office who will support my plan to ensure that we end sanctuary cities in Texas."

– Gov. Greg Abbott on his plan to end sanctuary cities in the state. Abbott was asked about his thoughts on sanctuary cities at a Tuesday benefit for the recent Bastrop County fires. 

Today in TribTalk

Proposition 7 is the road to the future, by John Cornyn – Last November, nearly 80 percent of Texas voters approved a forward-looking measure to help our state maintain and upgrade its vast network of roads and highways as we continue to grow. Next Tuesday, I hope Texans again approach the ballot with our state’s future in mind and vote in favor of Proposition 7. 

Without immunization,Texas could see a return of the plagues, by Peter Hotez – Texas is now vulnerable to an infectious disease crisis that could become far more dangerous and deadly than Ebola: the return of childhood diseases we once thought eliminated.

News From Home

If you missed it the first time, be sure to check out Starstruck, the Trib’s first fully immersive multimedia experience. It combines breathtaking timelapse video, sweeping photography and take-you-there audio — and represents a seismic shift in telling a story, this one of Texas once again becoming the center of an emerging space industry.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht on Oct. 29 in Austin

•    A discussion about Public Education: The Next Five Years on Nov. 13 at the University of Texas at El Paso. 

•    A daylong higher education symposium on Nov. 16 at Baylor University in Waco. 

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