The Big Conversation

Nevada Republicans caucus tomorrow in the last of the four GOP early voting contests. For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, it gives him one more opportunity to carve out space for himself against front-runner Donald Trump and Marco Rubio following his narrow third-place finish on Saturday in South Carolina.

Cruz is taking a similar approach in Nevada as he did in New Hampshire, the Tribune’s Patrick Svitek reported, building a libertarian-leaning coalition to tap into the anti-establishment mood among many Nevada voters.

Overtaking Trump remains a tall order. Svitek writes that reliable polling is hard to find in Nevada, but the few surveys that have been taken “have found Trump leading the field by anywhere from 13 to 26 percentage points.”

Cruz’s closest competition, Svitek writes, promises again to be Rubio, who has childhood ties to Las Vegas and briefly practiced the Mormon faith while in Nevada.

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The Nevada caucuses represent the last opportunity for the GOP field to face voters before next Tuesday’s set of mainly southern state primaries. Cruz, Svitek wrote, is pulling out the stops in Nevada, organizing 10 events in the three days leading up to the caucuses. Among the surrogates helping Cruz is Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick who will be in Nevada also through the caucuses.

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: Could Surname Be Key in Republican Supreme Court Race?, by Ross Ramsey — Do Republican voters in Texas have an aversion to Hispanic names? Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman is hoping that bit of election folklore is untrue.

Hillary Clinton Leans In On Texas To Grab Presidential Mojo, by Abby Livingston — In Houston, Hillary Clinton celebrates a win in Nevada and sets her sights on Texas, a firewall in her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Twelve Texas Death Row Inmates Were Undocumented, by Alexa Ura — Of the 251 men and women on Texas death row, 12 committed their crimes while in the country illegally, according to an analysis of data obtained by The Texas Tribune. This story is part of our "Bordering on Insecurity" series.

Cruz Finishes Third Behind Trump, Rubio in South Carolina, by Patrick Svitek — Ted Cruz on Saturday night placed third in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary, narrowly trailing Marco Rubio for a disappointing finish in a state that seemed tailor-made for the U.S. senator from Texas.

Jeb Bush Suspends Presidential Campaign, by Abby Livingston — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a native Texan, suspends his presidential campaign after a disappointing finish behind the top three contenders in the GOP South Carolina primary.

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S.C. Presents Key Early Test of Cruz's Bet on South, by Patrick Svitek — With Donald Trump leading in the polls, the question shifts to the strength of Ted Cruz elsewhere in the South should he lose South Carolina.

Geoscientist's Latest Experiment: Running for Statewide Office, by Jim Malewitz — In the Republican primary for Texas Railroad Commission, Lance Christian — a political novice — is embarking on something of an experiment: Can the agency staffer win statewide office based on scientific expertise alone?

In Major Water Case, Win for Ranchers is Loss For Cities, by Jim Malewitz — The Texas Supreme Court has handed a victory to farmers, ranchers and other longstanding water rights holders by declining to take up a Brazos River case with widespread implications for future water battles in drought-prone Texas. 

The Day Ahead

•    Former President Bill Clinton will be stumping for Hillary Clinton in Laredo and Dallas. The Laredo event begins at 12:45 p.m. at the Kinesiology-Convocation Building Gym at Texas A&M International University. And the Dallas event starts at 5:45 p.m. at the Student Union at Paul Quinn College.

•    State Sens. Jose Rodriguez and Sylvia Garcia, state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, Tejano Democrats of Texas Chairman Joey Cardenas and former National Women’s Political Caucus President Lulu Flores will endorse Hillary Clinton for president at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin at 1:30 p.m.

•    Eight-day pre-election campaign finance reports are due with the Texas Ethics Commission.


Cruz limps, Trump roars out of South Carolina, and Rubio gets fresh life, The Dallas Morning News

Campaign trails lead to Texas, San Antonio Express-News

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Residents of Crystal City dealing with onslaught of woes, San Antonio Express-News

Chaos, backlogs straining immigration courts, The Dallas Morning News

When a shooter came for Muslims, Omar fired back, The Dallas Morning News

Hispanic millennials eager to vote in presidential election, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Kennedy: In Texas, where only one party primary matters, voters don’t walk the line, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Bush campaign unable to get off ground despite legacy, money, Houston Chronicle

Open carry controversy started with a bang but shooting blanks so far, Austin American-Statesman 

S.A. part of once-promising, now much-criticized, biowarfare detection system, San Antonio Express-News 

Quote to Note

“Trump doesn’t have a clue what he knows or rather what he doesn’t know.”

— Former Land Commissioner Jerry Paterson, explaining how he decided to endorse U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for president over Texan Ted Cruz and 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

•    How High is the Water? A Data Visualization Party on March 13 at Umbel Corp

•    A Conversation with Reps. Craig Goldman, Stephanie Klick and Ramon Romero Jr. on March 29 at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

•    A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on April 13 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine

•    A Symposium on the Texas Economy on April 29 at the University of Houston