The Brief: Cruz Wins Idaho, Solidifies Role as Trump Alternative

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on stage at the Redneck Country Club in Stafford, Texas on the evening of the Texas primary on Mar. 1, 2016.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on stage at the Redneck Country Club in Stafford, Texas on the evening of the Texas primary on Mar. 1, 2016.

The Big Conversation

Ted Cruz was sailing late Tuesday to a solid win in the Idaho GOP presidential primary over billionaire front-runner Donald Trump, who won nominating contests in Michigan and Mississippi.

Also of note was Cruz running just ahead of Ohio Gov. John Kasich with nearly all of the precincts counted in Michigan. Kasich was hoping for a strong showing in a neighboring state.

If they hold, these results help reinforce Cruz’s status as the chief alternative to Trump, the Tribune’s Patrick Svitek wrote, “giving Cruz another wave of momentum heading into the first winner-take-all contests a week from now.”

“Tuesday also saw the continued decline of U.S. Marco Rubio of Florida, who was on track to miss key thresholds to collect delegates in Michigan, Mississippi and Idaho.”

Svitek reported separately on Cruz adding several former Jeb Bush backers — including his brother, Neil Bush — to the Cruz campaign’s national finance team.

 

The moves are part of a larger acknowledgement by some in the GOP establishment that Cruz represents the best chance to defeat Trump.

For now, early Cruz supporters like Iowa radio host Steve Deace aren’t expressing any worries about’s Cruz’s new found popularity with the establishment

Deace told Svitek, “For years, the establishment has told people like me you need to unify behind a moderate. Now it is time for them to unify behind a conservative."

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: Politics Wasn't at Play With Tax Hearing, Bettencourt Says, by Ross Ramsey — After questions about a special Senate committee hearing in San Antonio, and the appearance there of a challenger to House Speaker Joe Straus, state Sen. Paul Bettencourt makes a fairly strong case that there’s nothing to see here.

Man Who Killed 5 Faces Execution Wednesday, by Jolie McCullough — More than 18 years after killing five people with five shots from a hunting rifle, Coy Wayne Wesbrook, 58, faces execution Wednesday evening.

Travis County GOP Condemns Its Next Chairman, by Jordan Rudner — At a packed Travis County GOP executive committee meeting Tuesday night, it took less than a minute for someone to acknowledge the elephant not in the room — newly elected chair Robert Morrow.

Texas Supreme Court Grapples With Billion-Dollar Question, by Jim Malewitz — With billions of dollars at stake, the Texas Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a tax showdown whose outcome could shake up the next legislative session while providing a boost to struggling petroleum drillers.

Baylor Says It's Working to Improve Handling of Sexual Assault Cases, by Matthew Watkins — At a hearing in Austin Tuesday, Baylor University officials didn't address specific incidents that have put the school under a national microscope and raised concerns that it routinely ignores the needs of victims. 

 

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott will accept Site Selection Magazine’s 2015 Governor’s Cup Award at 11 a.m. in the Governor’s Press Conference Room at the Capitol. Every year, Site Selection Magazine gives the award to the top performing state that attracts capital investment.

Elsewhere

Jeb’s brother Neil Bush joins Cruz finance team, possibly opening door to more Bush support, The Dallas Morning News

Ted Cruz faces fresh allegations of 'dirty tricks’, Houston Chronicle

Trump raises the steaks after broiling his rivals, Politico

New York judge dismisses lawsuit questioning Ted Cruz’s presidential eligibility, The Dallas Morning News 

Roundhouse kick! Chuck Norris to stump for Ted Cruz, The Washington Post 

Texas lawmaker wants info on ‘pure, sober’ rapes on college campuses, The Dallas Morning News 

Garcia: Trump’s coattails could weigh down Hurd in Dist. 23, San Antonio Express-News

Patrick: Texas is sending message to drug cartels at border, Houston Chronicle

Julián Castro hammers Sanders on Latino issues, San Antonio Express-News

Molly White, lawmaker who spurned Muslims, requests recount, Austin American-Statesman 

Quote to Note

“I will continue to savagely attack and tell the truth about the corroded political scum in the Republican Party. Just as I have told the truth about the Clintons.”

Robert Morrow, the recently elected Travis County GOP chairman, answering a question about his controversial views at a precinct convention over the weekend

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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