The Big Conversation
The much remarked upon friendly relationship between GOP presidential rivals Donald Trump and Ted Cruz seemed to end definitively in yesterday's debate marked by a decidedly confrontational tone between the men.
As the Tribune's Patrick Svitek reported, the fireworks began early with an extended exchange over Trump's decision to begin raising the issue of Cruz's Canadian birth.
Cruz suggested the attacks by Trump were a result of his sagging poll numbers, something that Trump denied during and after the debate to reporters.
Cruz later went on the offensive, amplifying an attack on Trump that he embodies "New York values," an attempt to call into question Trump's conservatism. Trump was equally ready with a counterattack.
"Trump," Svitek wrote, "countered Cruz's explanation of New York values by extensively invoking the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their aftermath, recalling the 'smell of death' that he experienced firsthand. 'I have to tell you that was a very insulting statement that Ted made' about New York, Trump concluded."
Later on, Cruz also had a heated exchange with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, "who accused the Texan of wavering on a range of issues from immigration to ethanol. 'That is not consistent conservatism, that is political calculation,' Rubio concluded. Cruz, demanding a chance to respond to as many as '11 attacks' from Rubio, dismissed most of them as desperate. 'I appreciate you dumping your oppo research folder on the debate stage,' Cruz ultimately told Rubio."
Trib Must Reads
Jails Refused to Hold Thousands of Immigrants for Feds, by Morgan Smith and Jay Root — More than 18,000 times over the last two years, local jails across the country — including in almost three dozen in Texas — failed to hand over deportable immigrants to federal authorities.
Analysis: Lots of Traps on Texas Primary Election Ballots, by Ross Ramsey — If you believe that some voters rely on hunches, faulty memories and other hocus-pocus, then little things — quirky names and whatnot — could make all the difference.
Loan Issues Put Asterisk on Ted Cruz’s U.S. Senate Victory, by Patrick Svitek and Alexa Ura — A new revelation about an undisclosed loan from his wife's employer casts some uncertainty over the political triumph that has become central to Ted Cruz's political identity.
Sandra Bland's Mom Wants FBI to Hand Over Records, by Johnathan Silver — The mother of Sandra Bland, the young black woman found hanged in a Waller County jail following a traffic stop, has asked a federal judge for help getting the FBI to turn over details of her daughter's arrest and death.
Texas Attorney General Unveils Unit to Fight Human Trafficking, by Jamie Lovegrove — Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday announced a new unit in his office dedicated to combating human trafficking.
Trinity University is 20th Private College to Opt Out of Campus Carry, by Matthew Watkins — Trinity University in San Antonio became the latest private school in Texas to decide it doesn't want guns on its campus, despite a new state law that allows for the option.
Texas Tech Names John Opperman Interim President, by Matthew Watkins — The Texas Tech University System has named one of its own top administrators, John Opperman, to lead the flagship campus while it searches for a permanent president.
Ted Cruz Again Enters Debate Feeling Frontrunner's Heat, by Patrick Svitek — Ted Cruz is heading into the sixth Republican presidential debate again facing a heightened level of scrutiny from his GOP foes, similar to the dynamic in the run-up to the last debate.
The Day Ahead
• Campaign finance reports are due today for legislative, judicial and statewide candidates and officeholders. The semiannual reports cover activity from July 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2015.
• Gov. Greg Abbott will give Col. Dawn Ferrell her oath of office today at the Capitol at 1 p.m. Ferrell is the first woman in the Texas Air National Guard to be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
In twist, Paxton prosecutors sue Paxton’s agency to block records, Austin American-Statesman
State budget votes define Senate Democratic primaries, San Antonio Express-News
Cruz-Trump bromance ends as front-runners battle in Thursday's GOP debate, Dallas Morning News
Democrats girding for another expensive SD 26 battle, San Antonio Express-News
Patrick reports more than $7.5 million in campaign funds, Houston Chronicle
Abbott hauls in millions in campaign cash during first term, San Antonio Express-News
TEA Takeover Uncertain for Struggling Border District, Texas Observer
State employee disciplined after investigation of $68 million contract, Austin American-Statesman
Former Texas judge found guilty of embezzlement, The Associated Press
Quote to Note
"I guess the bromance is over."
— GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump talking to reporters about his and Ted Cruz's relationship after yesterday's Republican debate
Today in TribTalk
How to be heard, by Larry Schooler — Why do governments across Texas, at all levels, make it so difficult for those affected by policy decisions to affect those decisions?
Trib Events for the Calendar
• A Conversation with Steve McCraw, Texas DPS Director on Jan. 19 at the Austin Club
• A Conversation with Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Jan. 21 at the Austin Club
• A Symposium on Urban Public Education on Jan. 22 at the University of Texas at El Paso
• A Conversation on Health Care: Bending the Cost Curve on Jan. 28 at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth
• 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
• A Symposium on Transportation on March 29 at Texas A&M University in College Station