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The Brief: Evangelicals, Conservatives Key to Cruz Iowa Win

Ted Cruz walked away with a victory in the Iowa Republican caucuses on Monday night, describing the win as a “victory for the grassroots.”

Supporters gather to see Sen. Ted Cruz and to await the results of the Republican caucus at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa on Feb 1, 2016.

The Big Conversation

Ted Cruz walked away with a victory in the Iowa Republican caucuses on Monday night, describing the win as a “victory for the grassroots.”

The Texas senator won 28 percent of the vote, followed by billionaire Donald Trump with 24 percent and Florida senator Marco Rubio with 23 percent.

The Tribune’s Patrick Svitek reported that the Cruz campaign was touting the win as evidence of the superiority of its ground game over Trump’s stadium-packing celebrity.

“All the people who were watching this race were asking, ‘Are Trump voters real?’ and it turns out they were not,” Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told reporters. "They weren’t real today, they won’t be real next week and they won’t be real the week after that.”

The Washington Post, meanwhile, reported that Cruz ran strongly among voters describing themselves as “very conservative” and as evangelicals, groups who made up large chunks of the electorate.

Trump, the Post reported, was hampered by a surge by Rubio who finished stronger than had been expected.

In addition, Trump didn’t benefit as much from voters who were newcomers to the political process as had been expected.

“In the last Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll in Iowa, Trump led Cruz among first-time caucus-goers by 16 points,” the Post reported. “On Monday night, Trump’s margin among this group was closer to half that.”

The contest now shifts to New Hampshire, which holds its primary elections in a week. Cruz supporters on Monday were already expressing hopes that their candidate would sap Trump’s momentum.

Svitek wrote, “Speaking with reporters here, Cruz campaign national co-chair Bob Vander Plaats said even a narrow loss to Cruz by the billionaire would ‘puncture his narrative’ that all he does is win. 

"’I think after this, I think New Hampshire is going to take a lead from Iowa that Trump is not inevitable, he's not unstoppable, he's not the winner all the times that he says he is,’ Vander Plaats told reporters.”

Trib Must Reads

West Texas U.S. House Race Begins to Take Financial Shape, by Abby Livingston — For the nine Republicans running to succeed U.S. Republican Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, newly filed campaign finance reports provided a clear opportunity to stand out. Some did a better job than others.

In Final Iowa Push, Cruz Marks a Milestone, by Patrick Svitek — Shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, the junior Texas senator bounded off his campaign bus, strolled into a community center and laid claim to completing the Full Grassley. But did he?

As Feds Plan to Cut Border Monitoring, Texas Officials Ask Why, by Julián Aguilar — Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat, pressed the Department of Homeland Security on Monday to explain why the agency plans to reduce its aerial surveillance on the Texas-Mexico border. 

Commission: Paxton Can't Accept Out-of-State Gifts for Legal Fees, by Nicole Cobler — A Texas Ethics Commission opinion that would have allowed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to fund his ongoing legal battle through out-of-state donors failed to pass by one vote Monday.

Influential Democratic Group Backs Elizondo to Replace Hinojosa, by Abby Livingston — In the six-way Democratic primary to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Edinburg, Dolly Elizondo received a boost Monday from EMILY's List, the influential organization that backs exclusively female Democratic candidates.

Pro-Cruz Super PACs Raise Little But Have Plenty to Spend, by Patrick Svitek — The main super PACs supporting Ted Cruz on Sunday reported raising $1.2 million in the second half of 2015, a fraction of the sum they took in 10 months ago when they shocked the political world with an eight-figure debut.

The Day Ahead

•    The House Natural Resources Committee meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol extension. Lawmakers will evaluate the status of water markets in Texas, examine the regional and state water planning processes, hear testimony and conduct oversight of agencies and programs under their jurisdiction.


Hurd holds big cash advantage over Gallego, San Antonio Express-News

As ethics panel bars guns in meetings, others not so lucky, Houston Chronicle

Abbott, Cuellar chide Obama administration over aerial border resources, The Dallas Morning News

Authorities seek to protect blood supply from Zika virus, Houston Chronicle

Railroad Commission race pits different visions on key Texas industry, Austin American-Statesman

Ethics board says no to outside financing of AG’s criminal case, San Antonio Express-News

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz Supporters Sought New Donors at Koch Conference, The New York Times

New Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner Tells Texas DOT Not to Focus on Highway Expansion, The Atlantic

Turner names transition team, committees, Houston Chronicle

City of Dallas' case against low-rent landlord faces setback, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

“Sometimes you stare into the void. Sometimes a campaign like this stares back.”

— Republican political consultant Rick Wilson, describing this year’s presidential race.

Today in TribTalk

Deepwater Horizon restoration projects need accountability, by Larry McKinney — It’s the dirty secret of the restoration business that often little more than lip service is paid to monitoring and evaluating restoration projects. 

News From Home

•    Our Texas Public Schools Explorer includes even more data. You can now see figures related to the highest degree held by teachers, as well as the ethnic breakdowns of teachers at the state, district and campus levels.

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    The 2016 Elections: The Republican Race for Railroad Commissioner forum on Feb. 8 at KLRU Studio 6A in Austin.

•    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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