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The Brief: Cruz Keeps at Task of Grabbing Anti-Trump Mantle

With another four states set to hold nominating contests today, Ted Cruz worked hard Monday to position himself as the one best able to take on billionaire front-runner Donald Trump.

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz rally in Texas prior to the 2016 Texas primary.

The Big Conversation

With another four states set to hold nominating contests today, Ted Cruz worked hard Monday to position himself as the one best able to take on billionaire front-runner Donald Trump.

The Tribune’s Patrick Svitek reported that 150 delegates are up for grabs in Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi.

In Idaho, the Cruz campaign has aired a TV ad aimed at libertarian-leaning voters, and in Mississippi, Cruz is benefiting from the last-minute decision of Gov. Phil Bryant to endorse him in the race.

“Cruz still faces an uphill battle in Mississippi, part of a Deep South where Trump has previously stolen Cruz's thunder,” Svitek wrote. “On the eve of the primary, Cruz's campaign described the state of play in Mississippi as fluid.”

Today’s nominating contests might be more significant as a table setter for next Tuesday’s primaries in the home states of Marco Rubio (Florida) and John Kasich (Ohio).

“Cruz is hoping at least one of his non-Trump foes — Rubio, the U.S. senator from Florida — loses his home state in a likely fatal blow to his campaign,” Svitek wrote. “Such a defeat would move Cruz significantly closer to the two-man race with Trump Cruz has desperately sought.”

To that end, one of the main super PACs supporting Cruz launched ads critical of Rubio’s attendance record in the Senate and his support for sugar subsidies.

Trib Must Reads

Texas Near Bottom Among States in Primary Turnout This Year, by Jolie McCullough — Texas saw record turnout numbers in last week’s presidential primaries, but it still had one of the lowest voting-age participation rates of the states that have held primaries so far.

Insurers Want More Room for Generic Drugs in Medicaid, by Edgar Walters — Health plans say they could save Texas roughly $100 million per year in Medicaid costs if lawmakers would give them more freedom to choose generic drugs over name brands.

Billions At Stake for State in Tax Challenge, by Jim Malewitz — The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in a case that could deliver a multibillion-dollar windfall to struggling oil and gas producers, threatening to take a major bite out of state revenue.

Texas Disavows Controversial Women's Health Study, by Edgar Walters — Texas health officials have asked a prominent academic journal to take the state's name off a published finding that Texas women lost access to health care services after lawmakers kicked Planned Parenthood out of a family planning program.

Cruz Allies Seek to Ensure Rubio Loss in Florida, by Patrick Svitek — Ted Cruz's allies are launching an all-out offensive to ensure Marco Rubio loses his home state, an effort that reflects the urgency of Cruz's mission to narrow the field to himself and Donald Trump. 

The Day Ahead

•    The House Energy Resources and the International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs committees meet at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension to hear invited testimony on how the Mexican energy sector has impacted Texas.

•    The House Higher Education Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension to discuss how effective universities’ policies are at preventing and eliminating sexual assault.

•    The House Human Services Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension to review the Health and Human Services Commission’s Medicaid managed care organizations policies.


Softcore porn actress who appeared in pulled Ted Cruz ad switches support to Donald Trump, Houston Chronicle

Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz top list of most partisan senators, Politico

Scheduled to die, killer says he's better than most on death row, Houston Chronicle

Texas agency wants its name removed from controversial study, San Antonio Express-News

More Latinos Seek Citizenship to Vote Against Trump, The New York Times

Texas oil slump curbs regulation of petroleum industry, officials say, Austin American-Statesman

The Nancy Reagan model for first spouses Heidi Cruz, Bill Clinton, Melania Trump and others, The Dallas Morning News

‘Get ready, Austin:’ Texas lawmakers survive challenges, look to 2017, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

El Paso Public Schools Are Struggling to Teach Immigrant Children English, The Atlantic

Ted Cruz Promoted Himself and Conservative Causes as Texas’ Solicitor General, The New York Times

Quote to Note

"Republican donors are acting like the parents of teenage alcoholics. They see all the signs of problems, but they don’t really want to admit and address the problem because that would entail them acknowledging that they didn’t do the right things along the way.”

— Republican strategist Liz Mair, explaining how hard it is to persuade donors to contribute to her anti-Donald Trump super PAC, Make America Awesome

Today in TribTalk

"Making a Murderer" showed justice is about more than just a conviction, by Brandon Beck — The integrity of the criminal justice process is critical to prevent incarceration of the innocent, even if we must permit a guilty person to go free to preserve that integrity.

News From Home

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Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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

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