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Cruz Gets an Assist From Dan Patrick in Iowa This Weekend

Also, Cruz is the big winner in the Tarrant County GOP's straw poll last weekend and Paul Bettencourt is named Texas Senate GOP Caucus chairman.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, right, announces that Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is endorsing Cruz's presidential campaign. The Republic…

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will be in Iowa this weekend campaigning for Ted Cruz.

Scheduled to arrive on Saturday in Des Moines, Patrick plans to meet with the press at Cruz campaign headquarters on Sunday. He's slated to leave Iowa on Tuesday.

Patrick’s appearances come as part of the Cruz campaign’s final push in Iowa, which has also included campaign appearances this week with former Gov. Rick Perry. Cruz and Donald Trump are the GOP frontrunners going into the final week of campaigning in the key early voting state.

The Iowa caucuses take place on Monday.

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Cruz ended up the winner of a presidential straw poll conducted Saturday at the Tarrant County Republican Party’s candidate fair.

According to results shared by the party, Cruz won 39.7 percent of the vote. Donald Trump was in second place with 26.7 percent with Marco Rubio in third with 9.3 percent.

A total of 677 votes were cast in the straw poll. For full results, including those for selected congressional, statewide and local legislative races, click here. Poll organizers also included a count of 137 non-Tarrant County voters who voted in the statewide races.

A couple of Cruz backers in the Legislature — state Sen. Konni Burton and state Rep. Matt Krause — sent emails to supporters the week of the event to encourage them to turn out for the straw poll and vote for Cruz.

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State Sen. Paul Bettencourt was the unanimous choice last night of Senate Republicans to take over as the head of their caucus.

The Houston Republican steps in for state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, who is relinquishing the post of chairman after being named chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee in mid-December.

Bettencourt told the Tribune that he's stepping into the job as caucus chairman during "a pretty active" legislative interim. Lt. Gov. Patrick has issued 93 interim charges, and Bettencourt said, "I look forward to having a good caucus discussion of priorities for next session."

He added that he plans to spend more time "on the messaging side of the equation" to make sure that the priorities of the Senate Republican caucus are explained succinctly to voters and taxpayers.

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A national organization devoted to electing more Republicans to state legislatures has taken note of last night’s win by Republican John Lujan in Bexar County’s HD-118.

The special election win in the normally safely Democratic seat allows Republicans to grow their majority in the Texas House by another seat for the remainder of the year.

The Republican State Leadership Committee had called attention to the possibility of a win here earlier in January, identifying the HD-118 contest as its first “Race to Watch” of the year.

Last night, RSLC President Matt Walter said in a statement, “I am thrilled to see him join the Texas House — under the tremendous leadership of Speaker Joe Straus — and congratulate him on such a historic win tonight. His victory proves that Republicans are committed to the idea that a well-rounded and experienced candidate can make any district competitive.”

To serve in the next legislative session, Lujan must lock up his party’s nomination in March and then defeat the Democratic nominee in the November election.

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The University of Texas at Austin is adding a new center, The Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

The center and the LBJ School’s inaugural national conference, “Race, Democracy and Public Policy in America,” are a part of UT-Austin’s effort to create an inclusive academic environment for the student body.

UT-Austin hosts the conference Feb. 8-9.

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State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, disclosed in a press release sent out Tuesday that he was hospitalized over the weekend after a tear in his carotid artery causing a blockage near his head was discovered by doctors.

Uresti’s office said that the senator is in good condition currently and is expected to leave the hospital midweek.

Uresti said that he decided to have a persistent headache and neck pain checked out on Saturday. He was admitted to the emergency room later that day.

“You might eat healthy, exercise, or train for a marathon—you name it—but if your body gives you a sign that something might be wrong, you need to listen and get it checked out ASAP. No amount of pride is worth your life,” Uresti said in a written statement.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin and the LBJ School of Public Affairs are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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