The Big Conversation
Some Democrats in Washington, D.C., are floating the idea that Ted Cruz could be as injurious to the GOP's hopes of holding its majority in the U.S. House as the bombastic Donald Trump.
And, as the Tribune's Abby Livingston reports, some Republicans give some credence to the argument. Former Virginia Republican Congressman Tom Davis said Cruz, as his party's nominee, could harm candidates in the Northeast and Midwest while potentially helping candidates in the western states.
"I think it has to play out, but there is nervousness with Cruz, who is clearly not part of the establishment, that you don’t find with [Marco] Rubio or [Jeb] Bush or [John] Kasich in some of those districts," Davis told the Tribune.
"Campaign operatives from both parties point to the 26 GOP-held seats that are in districts where Obama won a majority of the 2012 popular vote," Livingston writes. "The Republican fear — and Democratic hope — is that Cruz falls short of 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney's performance and throws those seats into contention."
For its part, the Cruz camp discounts such talk. "The way Cruz wins the election is by energizing Republicans and then making the argument to independents and even Democrats for how his conservative principles are what will provide real opportunity and improve their lives," Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in an email to the Tribune.
Several of those contacted by the Tribune noted as well that the Republicans start with too large an advantage in the House — both in numbers and in the way the districts have been drawn to maximize partisan advantage.
Trib Must Reads
Planned Parenthood, Therapy Cuts Topped 2015 Health News, by Edgar Walters — Texas' Republican leadership in 2015 sought to cut funding from Planned Parenthood and a therapy program for children with disabilities, bar Syrian refugees from resettling in the state and bolster opposition to federal health reform.
Clinton Camp Sending Davis to Iowa's Democratic Strongholds, by Abby Livingston — As former state Sen. Wendy Davis begins stumping for Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton today in Iowa, the Clinton camp expects the erstwhile gubernatorial candidate will draw interest from some key voting blocs.
Texas Universities Expand, Stir Up Political Fights, by Matthew Watkins — Texas universities have been aggressively expanding their geographic reach in recent years, opening up new educational opportunities for students. But the growth has also led to complaints from state leaders and turf wars between schools.
Texas Appeals Court Maintains Execution Stay, by Johnathan Silver — Death row inmate Randall Mays' case will return to a Henderson County courtroom to determine whether he is competent enough to be executed after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals continued his stay of execution Wednesday.
Cuellar: Budget Deal Includes Foreign Aid To Stem Illegal Immigration, by Jay Root — The next federal budget will include nearly $1 billion in funding for Mexico and Central America to help stop the flow of undocumented migrants to the United States, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar announced Wednesday.
Ted Cruz Jettisons 2013 Compromise on Immigration, by Jay Root and Patrick Svitek — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz sounds a lot like billionaire businessman Donald Trump these days when it comes to illegal immigration. But his deport-now-ask-questions-later approach represents a stark change from what he advocated in 2013.
Congress Poised to Lift Oil Export Ban, by Abby Livingston — The U.S. Congress is on the verge of lifting a 40-year ban on crude oil exports onto the international market, an issue that pitted Texans who work in oil production — and their House representatives — against those who work in refineries.
The Day Ahead
• The Tribune presents a breakfast conversation with Karl Rove, author and former White House deputy chief of staff. The talk begins at 8 a.m. at the Austin Club and will be live streamed for those unable to attend in person.
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz Diverge in Approach to Their Hispanic Identity, The New York Times
HISD receives threat targeting schools, Houston Chronicle
South San superintendent files complaint with TEA, San Antonio Express-News
Head of retired teachers’ group concerned over possible insurance deal, Austin American-Statesman
Safety the key as Austin City Council takes on ride-hailing rules, Austin American-Statesman
Ag commissioner Sid Miller doled out $410k in bonuses in first 9 months, Houston Chronicle
Garcia: Uresti-Madla match revives memories of 2006 Senate primary, San Antonio Express-News
500 young Central American migrants settle in at camp, The Dallas Morning News
Army Corps of Engineers: Failure of Lewisville Dam is extremely unlikely, The Dallas Morning News
Texas sends fewer to death row as capital punishment wanes, The Associated Press
Quote to Note
“The committee is not investigating anything said during last night’s Republican presidential debate.”
— Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, in a statement released hours after he said that he had asked staff to look into whether Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had disclosed classified information during Tuesday night's debate
Today in TribTalk
Dallas won't follow Houston on equal rights, by Chuck Smith — Equal rights laws such as the one in Dallas are more important now than ever.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• A conversation with state Reps. Celia Israel, Eddie Rodriguez and Paul Workman on Jan. 14 at St. Edward's University in Austin
• The Texas Tribune's second Texas-centric Trivia Night on Jan. 31 at The Highball in Austin
• A conversation with Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Jose Manuel Lozano on Feb. 25 at Texas A&M University-Kingsville