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The Brief: Oct. 30, 2015

Ted Cruz's debate performance earned him good reviews and, more importantly, fueled $1.1 million in fundraising in the hours after the debate. But he still has ground to make up on the frontrunners.

Sen. Ted Cruz at the third GOP presidential debate in Boulder, Colorado on Oct. 28, 2015.

The Big Conversation

Ted Cruz's performance in the Wednesday night GOP presidential debate earned him good reviews from those scoring the encounter and, more importantly, fueled $1.1 million in fundraising in the hours after the debate.

Still, as the Tribune's Patrick Svitek wrote Thursday night, the Cruz campaign must still confront a "Now, what?" moment. The reality remains that Cruz still has ground to make up in the polls on frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson. "While neither (Trump nor Carson) stood out on the debate stage in Boulder, they appeared to do little to hurt themselves among voters drawn to the anti-establishment message — the same appeal Cruz is seeking to leverage in his bid for the White House," Svitek wrote.

At what point, for instance, does Cruz put more work into more sharply defining how he's different from those frontrunners? Iowa-based conservative activist Jamie Johnson told Svitek, "Senator Cruz has to make a decision: Will he maintain his present campaign strategy in hopes that Ben Carson will fizzle out or fade away and that Donald Trump will continue to drop, or will he be more assertive in going after Carson’s and Trump’s voters?"

Cruz was forced on Thursday to cancel a pair of Nevada campaign appearances because of the Senate taking up a budget deal opposed by Cruz and Rand Paul. "In a statement, Cruz's top adviser in Nevada said he was expecting 'capacity crowds' at the stops and promised the senator would make it back to the state as soon as possible" Svitek wrote. "It was not lost on political observers that Cruz's cancellation came the morning after a debate in which a fellow senator's attendance record came under fire."

Trib Must Reads

Firms Vying to Help Texas Build Gold Depository, by Aman Batheja – More than a dozen companies responded to a recent request from Comptroller Glenn Hegar for input on how Texas should set up a planned gold bullion depository.

Analysis: Making the Best of a Bad Situation, by Ross Ramsey – Suppose the Texas agriculture commissioner had to recuse himself from any regulation of beef, or the state comptroller had to stay out of any tax cases involving motor fuel. The Texas attorney general actually has a problem like that.

Commission Begins Study of Wrongful Convictions, by Johnathan Silver – The Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission Thursday paid tribute to its namesake – who was wrongfully convicted in a 1985 rape case – and began setting a vision for its role in prevent further wrongful convictions in Texas.

Paxton Files to Intervene in Austin Tax Lawsuit, by Aman Batheja – Accusing the city of Austin of trying to "take control over Texas tax policy," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office asked a court Thursday to allow it to intervene in the city's lawsuit challenging the state's property appraisal system.

Texans on List of Richest, Poorest Members of Congress, by Abby Livingston – U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is the second-richest member of Congress in 2015, according to a new list released by Roll Call. Three other Texans made the top-50 list, while one Texan was on the list of poorest members.

Cruz Unveils "Simple Flat Tax" Plan, by Patrick Svitek – Ted Cruz unveiled a plan late Wednesday that calls for a "simple flat tax" of 10 percent and promises to grow the U.S. economy by nearly 14 percent a decade from now. 

With Strong Texas GOP Support, Ryan Takes the Gavel, by Abby Livingston – U.S. House Republicans on Thursday overwhelmingly voted U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as its new speaker. Nearly every one of the 25 Texas House Republicans backed Ryan.

Bush Camp Asks of Cruz: "Where's the Accomplishments?", by Patrick Svitek – As Ted Cruz looks to consolidate the support of home-state Republicans, one rival campaign that also has deep ties to Texas is pushing back a bit — and questioning what the U.S. senator has done for his constituents. 

Elsewhere

Ted Cruz Is Looking Surprisingly Good, The Huffington Post

Jeb Bush’s brother missed time at his elected job, too, San Antonio Express-News

Paxton gets an earful as he weighs the governor’s budget vetoes, San Antonio Express-News

Paxton flags cost overruns on Texas child-support computer contract with Accenture, The Dallas Morning News

Large knives still illegal in gun-toting Texas, Houston Chronicle 

Inside Waco, Texas, biker shootout: Guns, blood and fear, CNN

Indicted San Antonio lawyer comes out swinging, San Antonio Express-News

GOP power brokers divided over Houston mayor's race, Houston Chronicle

SMU says it’s looking into ‘racially offensive’ fraternity party that was planned, The Dallas Morning News

Manslaughter charge against former detective Charles Kleinert dropped, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

"I leave with no regrets, no burdens. If anything, I leave the way I started, just a regular guy, humbled by the chance to do a big job."

– Speaker John Boehner, saying farewell to the U.S. House. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was voted in as the new speaker, with support from almost every member of the state's GOP delegation. 

Today in TribTalk

Austin, San Antonio would benefit from a regional airport, by  Joe Krier – As Austin and San Antonio begin to look more like one large metroplex, we need to seriously discuss the creation of a regional airport — a DFW for Central Texas.

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 on Transforming Texas Hospitals at the Texas Medical Center in Houston on Nov. 10

•    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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