The Big Conversation

Donald Trump was handily besting Ted Cruz in the Arizona GOP primary, the first of two Republican nominating contests to report Tuesday night.

Results from the Utah caucuses, where Cruz was expecting to fare better, were beginning to trickle in after midnight. The earliest returns showed Cruz with a big lead over Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Trump.

In Arizona, where immigration was a priority topic for GOP primary voters, Trump was winning more than 46 percent of the vote, more than doubling the turnout for Cruz. Perhaps more importantly, Trump’s win gave him all 58 delegates in the winner-take-all contest there.

It wouldn’t be an election night in 2016 without a strange sideshow surfacing and Tuesday night was no different.

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The Tribune’s Patrick Svitek has the rundown:

The Republican presidential race took a nasty turn shortly before the results came in Tuesday night. Trump tweeted, deleted and then tweeted again a threat aimed at Cruz's wife, apparently in reaction to a photo of Trump's wife used earlier by a group not affiliated with Cruz's campaign. 

"Lyin' Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad," Trump wrote. "Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!" 

Trump appeared to be referring to a Facebook ad from an anti-Trump super PAC that showed a risqué photo of his wife, a former model.

Earlier on Tuesday, Cruz caused controversy of his own with a call for a "need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized" in the aftermath of the twin bombings in Brussels.

As the Tribune’s Abby Livingston reported, he later clarified his remarks to say he was wanted to “focus law enforcement efforts on areas where there is a danger of radical Islamic terrorism.”

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His comments, though, spurred strong pushback.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and former U.S. Army helicopter pilot who lost her legs in 2004 in Iraq, told Mashable on Tuesday afternoon, "When we say this kind of thing, we promote the divisive rhetoric, the propaganda that ISIS is selling, which will create the next insurgent that's going to shoot down an American helicopter like the guy that shot me down."

Trib Must Reads

Supreme Court To Weigh Religious Freedom in Birth Control Case, by Alexa Ura — In another major case concerning Texas women’s reproductive care, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider if the right to religious freedom is broad enough to completely exempt religious nonprofits from providing women access to contraceptives through their insurance plans.

Analysis: Texas Election Laws are Hard on Independents, by Ross Ramsey — So you want to be an independent candidate for president and you want to be on the ballot in Texas? You have until May 9, and there is some fine print to read first.

Houston-area Residents Protest Hurricane Plan, by Kiah Collier — A public meeting to gather input from Houston-area residents on various hurricane protection plans turned into a mini protest Tuesday with several attendees challenging a levee proposal that would leave some communities around Galveston Bay unprotected.

Wisconsin Emerges as Potential "Anti-Trump Firewall" for Cruz, by Patrick Svitek — Voters head to the polls Tuesday in Arizona and Utah, but Ted Cruz's presidential campaign see the next major nominating contest — the April 5th primary in Wisconsin — as a critical moment for anti-Trump forces.

Trooper in Sandra Bland Case Pleads Not Guilty, by Johnathan Silver — Former Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia appeared before a state district judge Tuesday and entered a not guilty plea to a perjury charge stemming from his arrest of Sandra Bland.

The Day Ahead

•    The House Business & Industry Committee will hear invited testimony and discuss potential reforms to state agencies under the committee’s oversight. Also on the agenda, lawmakers will examine the costs and benefits of some state agencies and entities being required or exempt from purchasing insurance through the State Office of Risk Management. Members will meet at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension.

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•    Members of the Senate Veteran Affairs & Military Installations Border Security Subcommittee will hear testimony on how local governments along the border have become secure and how the state can invest in local law enforcement infrastructure. The subcommittee meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol extension.

•   Gov. Greg Abbott will deliver a lunch hour speech to the Rotary Club of San Antonio.

•    Drivers and allies of vehicle-for-hire companies plan an 11:15 a.m. press conference in downtown Austin to rally support for a ballot proposition that would repeal fingerprint-based background checks and replace them with a criminal background check.


AG Ken Paxton again backs Wallace Hall in UT legal fightAustin American-Statesman

Austin Could 'Ban the Box' for Job Seekers with Felony Histories, Texas Observer 

DFW Airport maintains ‘heightened vigilance’; American employees safe, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Federal judge picks ‘best of the best’ to help her overhaul Texas foster care, The Dallas Morning News

Poor children fall further behind in Houston schools, report finds, Houston Chronicle

 El Paso wages among lowest in nation, El Paso Times 

First lady urges get out the vote, Odessa American

Cruz, Trump get into Twitter beef over their wives, Houston Chronicle

Dan Patrick draws 'line in sand’ — only Cruz or Trump are legit nominees, Austin American-Statesman 

Club for Growth endorses Ted Cruz, Politico

Quote to Note

“You know what? I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you ask Donald Trump to come here and defend himself. Donald is afraid to debate.”

— Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz calling for a one-on-one debate with rival Donald Trump moderated by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.

Today in TribTalk

On World Water Day, Let's Work to Protect Texas' Drinking Water, by Sara E. Smith — As we celebrate World Water Day today, let’s consider a few of the threats to our drinking water right here at home — and what we can do about them.

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 Conversation on San Antonio & the Legislature: The Issues in the Interim on April 26 at the University of Texas at San Antonio

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