The Big Conversation
In the aftermath of the New Hampshire primaries, the field of candidates cleared some on the Republican side while the remaining hopefuls began the job of positioning themselves for the upcoming contests in South Carolina and Nevada.
Ted Cruz was in South Carolina on Wednesday with a new message: I am the only one who can beat Donald Trump.
"You cannot beat Donald Trump running from the left," Cruz told reporters in Myrtle Beach, as reported by the Tribune’s Patrick Svitek.
"The only way to beat Donald Trump is to highlight the simple truth of his record," Cruz added. "It is not conservative."
The Associated Press, meanwhile, reported that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton plans to campaign next week with the mother of Sandra Bland, the woman who died in a Waller County Jail days after being stopped by a Department of Public Safety trooper. The trooper’s treatment of Bland during the traffic stop quickly entered the ongoing national conversation on race and police action.
The action of the Clinton campaign points to their belief that support in the African American community will be key to her chances to fend off Bernie Sanders, who easily won the New Hampshire Democratic primary after fighting Clinton to a near tie in Iowa.
All this happened on a day when two GOP candidates — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina — abandoned their presidential campaigns following poor showings in New Hampshire.
Fiorina backer and former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs released a statement Wednesday evening in which she said of Fiorina that “While her vote totals were discouraging, she has left an enduring mark on the contest to determine which leader will begin the arduous task of repairing the damage done over the past eight years by the current president. I applaud her ferocious effort and express the thanks of sensible conservatives across Texas.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott — who hasn’t endorsed yet for president — told reporters before his appearance before a Republican group in Georgetown on Tuesday evening that the New Hampshire contest illustrated voter frustration over the economy and governmental overreach.
“What we’re seeing by both Trump’s victory as well as Bernie Sanders’ victory is that Americans are very frustrated with the way things are going,” Abbott said, as reported by the San Antonio Express-News’ Peggy Fikac.
Trib Must Reads
After Deportation, Killer Returned Easily to U.S., by Jay Root — Deported to his native Mexico for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl, Juan Leonardo Quintero returned to Houston and easily resumed his life. When he killed a police officer in 2006, Quintero became a poster child for loose border enforcement.
In Reeling Crystal City, Distrust Gives Way To Action, by Jim Malewitz — Distrust of city government has brewed in Crystal City for years. Now, many see cynicism giving way to engagement, with hope that a rock-bottom moment in city government will help turn anger into activism.
Four Years Later, Quintanilla Wants Back Under the Dome, by Julián Aguilar — In 2012, Inocente “Chente” Quintanilla decided to forgo re-election to the Texas House. Now his efforts to return are being dismissed by state Rep. Mary González, D-Clint, who says Quintanilla just missed "being part of the Austin life."
University of Houston Keeps GOP Debate, by Matthew Watkins — CNN announced Wednesday that the University of Houston will still get to host the Feb. 25 GOP primary presidential debate. The university's status had been called into question after NBC News was removed as the organizer of the event.
McRaven: UT System Schools Need Tuition Hikes, by Matthew Watkins — University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven said Wednesday that the eight universities under his authority need to raise tuition in order to stay competitive. If approved, the increase would cost students at UT-Austin $152 per semester.
State Bar Will Investigate Paxton for Conduct After Marriage Ruling, by Jordan Rudner — The Texas State Bar was ordered to launch a disciplinary probe into Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s conduct in the days following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.
With Clean Power Plan Ruling, Texas Dodges Climate Action, by Jim Malewitz — The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday to block President Obama’s Clean Power Plan has helped state Republicans — at least temporarily — dodge major action on climate change.
The Day Ahead
• The Tribune's CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith will have a conversation with Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, at the Austin Club. The breakfast time conversation begins at 8 a.m. and will be live streamed for those unable to attend the event.
• The House Higher Education Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension. Lawmakers will review the state’s community college system and hear testimony.
• The Senate Property Tax Reform & Relief Select Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Regional Academic Health Center at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Harlingen. The committee will hear testimony on the property tax process and how to reduce property owners’ tax burden.
• The Tribune's Jay Root, KUT's Ben Philpott and Democratic strategist Colin Strother will record The Ticket live at KUT Public Media Studios. The live recording will begin at 7 p.m. with a watch party for the PBS Democratic Debate following at 8 p.m. The live podcast recording will be live streamed for those unable to attend in person.
Stung by Low Oil Prices, Companies Face a Reckoning on Debts, The New York Times
Cruz lampoons Trump with action figure, The Hill
Railroad Commission candidates make pitch to Midlanders, Midland Reporter-Telegram
Fierce GOP fight for Texas House District 92, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
After New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders supporters see opening in Texas, The Dallas Morning News
President's budget seeks $19 billion for NASA, Houston Chronicle
Greg Abbott launches research initiative, pivoting away from Perry’s higher ed priorities, The Dallas Morning News
UTSA task force working to finalize campus carry report, San Antonio Express-News
Quote to Note
"You see more moderate candidates standing on the debate stage and saying, 'Gosh, Donald, we need more amnesty. Gosh, Donald, don't be so tough on radical Islamic terrorism.' That's not going to work."
— Ted Cruz, telling reporters before a rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, that he is the only candidate who can beat New Hampshire primary winner Donald Trump
Trib Events for the Calendar
• 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 Sid Miller, Texas Agriculture Commissioner, on March 10 at the Austin Club
• A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on April 13 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine