The Big Conversation

Ted Cruz is closer to getting the two-man race with billionaire Donald Trump that he's been hoping for with the results from Tuesday's nominating contests.

Trump was again the big winner with victories in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina. But Cruz was picking up delegates in places like North Carolina and Missouri, where he was trailing Trump by about 1,700 votes out of more than 930,000 votes cast.

Perhaps of more significance was Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's poor showing in his home state, spurring him to suspend his campaign Tuesday evening.

“Starting tomorrow morning, every Republican has a clear choice: Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination, ours and Donald Trump’s,” Cruz said, as reported by the Tribune's Patrick Svitek. “Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever.”

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich, though, was successful in his home state, handily defeating Trump there.

"Cruz’s campaign moved quickly Tuesday night to paint Kasich as a nonfactor," Svitek wrote, "saying it would be a statistical impossibility for him to clinch the nomination before the convention. Cruz strategist Jason Johnson told reporters the Ohio governor was essentially chasing a 'dream' of being president."

Politico's Katie Glueck wrote that the Cruz campaign is moving to bring in more centrist Republicans as he argues that he's the best option to stop Trump. She wrote:

"His plan to win the nomination also rests on beating Trump head-to-head in later-voting states. The Cruz campaign says it thinks the Texas senator holds an advantage over Trump in closed primary states, where only pre-registered Republican voters can participate. ... To that end, behind the scenes, he and his campaign have been courting donors and prominent backers of other candidates who have either exited the race, or look like they might."

To do so, Glueck wrote, Cruz has to reckon with "the deep disdain" that many establishment Republicans have for him, going back to his work in shutting down the government over Obamacare.

Trib Must Reads

As Oil Prices Fell, Texas Campaign Donations Followed, by Abby Livingston and Jim Malewitz — For decades, the petroleum industry has largely fueled Texas' influence in national Republican politics. But operatives are seeing early signs that the current oil bust has depressed the sector’s political giving.

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A&M Climbs in Law School Rankings, UT Remains High, by Jamie Lovegrove — Texas A&M jumped 38 spots in the 2017 U.S. News and World Report law school rankings released Wednesday, marking the biggest improvement among any graduate school in the state.

David Simpson Secures Runoff Spot in Senate Race By 13 Votes, by Jamie Lovegrove — Two state representatives are set to face off for an open position in the Texas senate after the third place candidate said Monday he will not request a recount.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott travels to Orange to view and receive a briefing on the damage caused by severe flooding in the region. He'll also hold an afternoon press conference while there at the county's emergency operations center.


Abbott declares flood zone disaster, Houston Chronicle

Fort Worth police officer wounded; one suspect dead, another in custody, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Federal judge tosses lawsuit against Texas dark money regulation, San Antonio Express-News

Bonuses doled out by ag commissioner violated agency policies, Houston Chronicle

Friends of Father Elizondo reflect on his life and career — and his tragic end, San Antonio Express-News

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SXSW 2016: Debating encryption versus national security, Austin American-Statesman

Pro-Uber groups submits first document related to referendum, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Senate passes FOIA reform bill, The Hill

Is magic a national treasure? Rep. Pete Sessions thinks so, The Dallas Morning News

Trump's Appeal Divides Tea Party Loyalties in Crucial States, Reuters

Quote to Note

“There’s no question that Sen. Cruz has made a lot of enemies on Capitol Hill through his own actions. ... If you look at why Republicans lost in 2012, we lost minorities, suburban women, we lost young voters, if you look at those three demographics, it’s hard to say Cruz necessarily fares better than Trump … that’s what many folks are grappling with right now, both are very polarizing candidates.”

— GOP consultant Brian Walsh on the difficulty facing Ted Cruz in winning over establishment Republicans against billionaire front-runner Donald Trump

Today in TribTalk

Illegal immigrants should not receive taxpayer-subsidized attorneys, by Jon Feere — People respond to messaging, and many coming to our borders know they will get to stay in the United States for years, if not indefinitely, and perhaps receive work permits and other benefits just by showing up. In any event, this bill isn't really about the children.

News From Home

This year, we're taking we're taking a deeper look at the hot-button issues of border security and immigration. Catch up on our "Bordering on Insecurity" series here.

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    The Price of Admission: A Conversation on the Top 10 Percent Rule on March 31 at Austin Community College Highland Campus

•    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