The Big Conversation
A shakeup Wednesday in the Republican race for president — the decision by two candidates to suspend their campaigns — is benefiting the campaign of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
More specifically, the departure of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul yielded two immediate endorsements for Cruz: state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, and state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford. The Tribune's Patrick Svitek has the rundown:
Huffines, a longtime friend of the Paul family, said he sees similarities between Cruz's campaign and the Kentucky senator's libertarian message, with both focused on "vastly limiting" the size of the federal government.
While Stickland had not formally endorsed Rand Paul, he had spoken favorably of him and made donations to his campaign. "Ted Cruz has championed liberty in the U.S. Senate and I'm proud to endorse him to be the next president of the United States," read a statement from Stickland, a Republican from Bedford. "We need a principled conservative leader to stand up against the Washington cartel and Ted Cruz is that man."
Also leaving the race on Wednesday was former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who immediately threw his support behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, The New York Times reported.
Trib Must Reads
Jonathan Stickland Eats His Words in Tough Primary, by Morgan Smith — Bedford state Rep. Jonathan Stickland's challenger in the GOP primary for Texas House has dredged up more than 3,000 of Stickland's old posts on a fantasy football forum. It ain't pretty.
Oncor: Hunt's Possible Merger Could Boost Rates, by Jim Malewitz — Oncor, the state’s largest utility, is warning state regulators that electric rates could increase for millions of Texas customers if they approve a complex reorganization plan offered by the Ray L. Hunt family.
Perry Says Texas Shouldn't Sweat Falling Oil Prices, by Jordan Rudner — Citing an increasingly diversified Texas economy, former Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday boasted about the “Texas Miracle” and said there’s no reason to be overly concerned about the plummeting price of oil.
The Day Ahead
• Tribune CEO and editor-in-chief Evan Smith will have a conversation with Rep. Trey Martinez Fisher, D-San Antonio, at the Austin Club. The talk begins at 8 a.m. and will be live streamed for those unable to attend in person.
Friendship opened door for firm in state contracting scandal, Houston Chronicle
East Texas jury nails Apple with $625 million patent infringement verdict, The Texas Lawbook
Videographer in Planned Parenthood case to be offered probation, Houston Chronicle
Activists have immigrant message for pope, El Paso Times
Low oil talk of the town, Odessa American
Texas investment in 'emerging research' universities paying off, Houston Chronicle
In protest of fare cuts, San Antonio Uber drivers plan work stoppage, San Antonio Express-News
How safe is Juárez ahead of Pope Francis’ visit?, Austin American-Statesman
The House Always Wins, Texas Observer
Quote to Note
"We need a commander-in-chief, not a twitterer-in-chief."
— Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, answering questions about what his reaction was to rival Donald Trump's tweets about how the senator stole Iowa.
Today in TribTalk
Don’t blame business for government mandates, by Josiah Neeley — When regulation becomes so pervasive that you can no longer tell where government stops and the private sector begins, you can’t count on either to serve the public interest.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• 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
• Live Post-Primary TribCast on March 2 at the Austin Club
• Protecting Houston Before the Next Big Storm on March 3 at San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center in La Porte.
• 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