The Big Conversation

With Marco Rubio out of the GOP presidential field, Ted Cruz is amping up his criticism of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the last candidate standing between the Texas senator and his hoped for two-man race with billionaire Donald Trump.

"A vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump," Cruz told reporters Saturday in Utah, as reported by the Tribune’s Patrick Svitek. "I don't know if John Kasich is perhaps campaigning to be Donald Trump's vice president, but he has been eliminated mathematically from having any chance of being the nominee."

Kasich’s continued presence could turn out to be significant this week because of the upcoming nominating contests on Tuesday in Utah and Arizona.

“In Utah, Kasich's presence could be particularly problematic for Cruz, who is hoping to capture a majority of the vote, the threshold to win all of the state's 40 delegates,” Svitek wrote. “Cruz suggested Friday that Kasich could keep him from winning more than 50 percent of the vote, creating a scenario in which the delegates are likely awarded on a proportional basis to all three candidates.”

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A familiar name, Rick Perry, also made the rounds over the weekend as a New York Times report mentioned a meeting of conservative activists where the former Texas governor’s name was put forward “as a possible third-party candidate.”

The Tribune’s Abby Livingston, though, reported that Perry’s former campaign manager moved to douse the rumor on social media on Sunday.

And, as Livingston reported, “according to well over a dozen Texas Tribune interviews with state and national GOP political operatives on Saturday, the effort to draft Perry appeared to be limited in scope and mostly theoretical. “

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: For Sid Miller, No Competition Means Few Worries, by Ross Ramsey — Texas agriculture commissioners have historically had a hard time getting any news coverage, but Sid Miller's knack for controversy has kept him in the headlines since he took office almost 15 months ago.

Citizenship Applications Surge in Presidential Year, by Alexa Ura — Amid a heated presidential election that has focused heavily on immigration, uncertainty about the future appears to be pushing thousands of legal residents in Texas to apply for citizenship in hopes of securing their place in the country.

In Arizona, Cruz Vies With Trump on Immigration, by Patrick Svitek — Ted Cruz raced to catch up with Donald Trump's hard line on immigration Friday, calling most of those crossing the border illegally "hardened, vicious, violent criminals."

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Romney Says He Will Vote For Cruz in Utah Caucuses, by Patrick Svitek — Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said Friday he plans to vote for Ted Cruz in the Utah caucuses, giving the Texas senator a boost in his efforts to rally Republicans against billionaire Donald Trump.

Cornyn Lauds Trump-Fueled Republican Turnout, by Jamie Lovegrove — The senior U.S. senator from Texas, a quiet observer of the presidential race thus far, still won't endorse his junior colleague, but he does say increased turnout spawned by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump could work in the party’s favor. 

The Day Ahead

•    Representatives will study body camera policies for police and hear testimony when the Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement House Select Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension.

•    The Property Tax Reform and Relief Senate Select Committee meets at 11 a.m. at Texas Tech University in Lubbock to hear invited, resource and public testimony about the tax process and how to reduce the tax burden on property owners.

•    Lawmakers will look at the constitutional requirements and practices that appoint legal counsel to indigent defendants and examine the operation of innocence projects at the state’s six public law schools when the Criminal Jurisprudence House Committee meets at 1:30 p.m. in the Capitol extension

Elsewhere

Lawmakers to study impact of thousands of soon-to-be active body cameras, KXAN

Without this Texas clinic, women with unwanted pregnancies would have to travel 230 miles or cross into Mexico, Los Angeles Times

Syrian family welcomed by Austin community, not top state officials, Austin American-Statesman 

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Modern-day rustlers, The Dallas Morning News 

A Trump nomination could have congressional impact locally, San Antonio Express-News

In growing Fort Bend County, tranquility turns into turmoil, Houston Chronicle 

New Mexico’s out-of-state abortion rate grows as Texas restricts access, The Associated Press 

Killeen man arrested in SXSW shooting incident, Austin American-Statesman

Is Cruz already too late to stop Trump?, Politico 

Top AG staffer vows to defend religious freedom, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

“What irony. The candidate who couldn’t remember the third thing may become the third thing.”

Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, talking about the recent push to make former Texas Gov. Rick Perry a third party presidential candidate if Donald Trump clinches the GOP nomination.

Today in TribTalk

Deepwater Horizon settlement money will go far in Texas, by Josiah Neeley — In Texas, the process for deciding how to best funds from the Deepwater Horizon disaster settlement has been transparent and geared toward projects that have a broad public benefit. 

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