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The Brief: Cruz Aims to Rewrite Rules With Southern Strategy

An analysis of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz's travels shows a focus on courting Southern voters to an extent rarely seen before in presidential politics.

Presidential contender Ted Cruz talks to the press in Rock Rapids, Iowa on Jan. 6, 2016.

The Big Conversation

An analysis of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz's travels shows a focus on courting Southern voters to an extent rarely seen before in presidential politics.

The Tribune's Abby Livingston has the rundown. She writes:

Since the Texas senator declared his candidacy in March, 40 percent of his public events have taken place in Iowa, according to a Texas Tribune analysis of his travel schedule as of Saturday. But beyond that first-test state, Cruz has held nearly a quarter of his campaign events in the so-called “SEC primary" states, a mostly southern mix of states that will host their primaries on March 1.


“I haven’t seen anyone focus on the South the way that Cruz has,” said former Republican National Committee spokesman Doug Heye.

Heye said that's a reflection of Cruz's keen understanding of the changes to this year's primary schedule. Republicans have added three southern states — Alabama, Arkansas and delegate-rich Texas — to the March 1, or Super Tuesday, lineup, while subtracting a handful of northern states. The net result is increased nominating power concentrated in the South at a pivotal point in the primary schedule.

As noted above, Cruz has spent most of his time in the key early voting state of Iowa. In a footnote to Cruz's big bus tour of Iowa that concluded Saturday, the Tribune's Patrick Svitek presents his five takeaways: 1. Cruz is working Iowa hard — and he really wants you to know it. ... 2. The ethanol lobby broke through. ... 3. Other lines of attack aren't catching on. ... 4. Iowa has made Cruz a retail politician — sort of. ... 5. Cruz may be the frontrunner, but Trump looms.

Trib Must Reads

Texas GOP Chairman to Pull Primary Shakeup Plan Over Cruz Concerns, by Patrick Svitek — Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler has decided to withdraw a proposal that would have changed the first four early voting states after hearing concerns from Ted Cruz.

Texas Universities Likely to Allow Guns in Classrooms, by Matthew Watkins — Texas professors are still fighting to keep their classrooms gun-free. But the state's top universities appear to be reaching a consensus that banning guns in classes will soon be illegal.

DPS, Trooper Move to Halt Lawsuit by Sandra Bland's Family, by Johnathan Silver — The Texas Department of Public Safety and indicted trooper Brian Encinia want a federal judge to let the officer's criminal case in Waller County play out before moving forward with a lawsuit filed by Sandra Bland's mother.

Issue of Cruz's Citizenship Stoked by GOP Rivals, by Patrick Svitek — With his GOP rivals raising questions about Ted Cruz's citizenship, an issue long dormant in the presidential race has suddenly moved to the forefront and the Texas senator finds himself explaining the particulars of his Canadian birth.

Abbott Jumped Gun on Terror Suspect Arrest, by Terri Langford — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott discussed details about a terror suspect arrested in Texas Thursday while the case was still sealed, but a federal prosecutor downplayed the impact.

Cruz Suggests "Spanking" for Clinton Role in Benghazi, by Patrick Svitek — Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Friday suggested Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, should get a "spanking" for her response to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks.

Add Rick Perry to Those Taking Issue with Hunt's Oncor Plan, by Jim Malewitz — Former Gov. Rick Perry is raising concerns about Ray L. Hunt’s proposal to buy Oncor, state’s largest electric transmission company — speaking out as Texas regulators prepare to kick off hearings on the mammoth deal.

McCaul: We Must Extradite Chapo Guzman to the U.S., by Julián Aguilar — Arguing that Mexican prisons are little more than roadblocks for drug kingpins, Texas Congressman Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is again calling for the extradition of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States.

Analysis: Abbott Tries to Punch His Way Into National Politics, by Ross Ramsey — The Texas governor unveiled Fed Up! 2.0 on Friday — calling on his fellow provincial leaders to assemble for a constitutional convention that would empower the state governments and constrain the federal government.

Trooper in Sandra Bland Case Plans to Appeal Firing, by Johnathan Silver — Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia will appeal his firing and disputes the allegation that he perjured himself in regards to his report on arresting Sandra Bland, his attorney told The Texas Tribune.

Abbott Calls on States to Amend U.S. Constitution, by Edgar Walters — In a fresh — but long shot — assertion of states’ rights, Gov. Greg Abbott is calling for a convention of U.S. states to pass nine new amendments to the U.S. Constitution.


Terror charges baffle suspect's family, Houston Chronicle

Big drop in out-of-state fans more bad news for F1, Austin American-Statesman

The fruitcake factor: Collin Street Bakery’s workers become Texas House campaign issue, The Dallas Morning News

Why this Texas barbecue joint is rewarding customers who bring their guns, The Washington Post

Tax code amendment costs schools millions, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Behind from the start, San Antonio Express-News

Austin, A&M dispute over journal article highlights warbler politics, Austin American-Statesman

2 Texas billionaires bought up 38,000 acres of Idaho land, The Associated Press

Famed YO Ranch could soon be in pieces, San Antonio Express-News

House race pitting Garcia, Green tests power of Latino vote, Houston Chronicle

Rick Perry’s stamp of approval: Is it enough?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Heidi Cruz Trades High-Powered Career for 2016 Campaign, The Washington Post

In Iowa, Cruz battles Trump — and rising expectations, Politico

Ted Cruz’s Diligent Courting of Evangelicals Pays Off in Iowa, The New York Times

The art history professor behind Cruz's foreign policy, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

“I never once saw a Cuban who wore boots.”

Alejandro Carrillo, a Mexican salesman, to The Washington Post on the clash of cultures that the two Cuban-American candidates for president — Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — might have to overcome in appealing to voters of Mexican descent

Today in TribTalk

Greg Abbott's right about one thing: We should amend the Constitution, by Sanford Levinson — The only way to make sense of Abbott’s remarks is to view them as acknowledgment that the Constitution we have, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, may not be the Constitution we want to structure our politics in the future.

How Obama’s executive actions affect Texas gun politics, by Jim Henson and Joshua Blank — Texas voters may not be currently clamoring for ever fewer restrictions on gun rights, but the political leadership is determined to deliver them anyway as proof of their commitment to defending their constituents’ rights from the depredations of the president.

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

•    A Conversation with Steve McCraw, Texas DPS Director on Jan. 21 at the Austin Club

•    A Conversation with Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Jan. 21 at the Austin Club

•    Symposium on Urban Public Education on Jan. 22 at the University of Texas at El Paso

•    The Texas Tribune's second Texas-centric Trivia Night on Jan. 31 at The Highball in Austin

•    A Conversation with Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer on Feb. 4 at the Austin Club

•    A Conversation with Sen. José Menéndez on Feb. 11 at the Austin Club

•    The Ticket: A Live Recording and Democratic Primary Debate Watch Party on Feb. 11 at KUT Public Media Studios in Austin

•    A Conversation with Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Jose Manuel Lozano on Feb. 25 at Texas A&M University-Kingsville

•    A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on March 23 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine

•    Symposium on Transportation on March 29 at Texas A&M University in College Station

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