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The Brief: Cruz Moves To Widen Lead Over Trump Among Women

Ted Cruz made women the focus of his campaigning on a day in which his main Republican rival struggled to communicate clearly his position on how women should be treated should abortion become outlawed.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to supporters with his father Rafael, his wife Heidi and their children outside his new presidenti…

The Big Conversation

Ted Cruz made women the focus of his campaigning in Wisconsin, unveiling a Women for Cruz coalition on a day in which his main rival in the GOP presidential race struggled to communicate clearly his position on whether women should be punished for obtaining an abortion should the procedure become outlawed.

"Trump hardly came up at the (Cruz) event, but the subtext was clear," wrote the Tribune's Patrick Svitek. "The billionaire's attacks on Heidi Cruz, which began last week in response to ad from an anti-Trump group that featured the billionaire's wife, have drawn attention to his history of sexist and misogynistic comments — as well as his current struggles to gain traction among female voters."

Cruz is focusing efforts this week on Wisconsin, which votes next week. His push to win over women voters comes as the Texas senator is opening up a gap between him and Trump in support from women. Svitek reported that a new Marquette University School of Law poll shows Cruz with a 10-point lead over Trump among Republican primary voters. Among women, that lead stretches to 15 points.

Trump received some good news on Wednesday in the form of an endorsement from the national union that represents more than 16,000 Border Patrol agents. Trump has made building a border wall a centerpiece of his appeal to GOP voters throughout his campaign.

“The fact that people are more upset about Mr. Trump’s tone than about the destruction wrought by open borders tells us everything we need to know about the corruption in Washington," read a statement from the National Border Patrol Council announcing the endorsement, as reported by the Tribune's Julián Aguilar.

Trib Must Reads

Fighting the Top 10 Percent Rule, Fighting to Make it a Success, by Matthew Watkins and Neena Satija — As many UT-Austin administrators say the Top 10 Percent Rule hurts the university's national prestige, the college is focused on helping UT-Austin students who might not have otherwise been admitted. This is part of the Tribune's "The Price of Admission" series.

New Sentencing Trial for Bernie Starts Wednesday, by Johnathan Silver — Bernie Tiede — who in 1996 killed his elderly companion, Marjorie Nugent, and inspired a Richard Linklater dark comedy — could learn in just a few weeks whether he'll remain free, return to a life sentence or land somewhere in between.

In South Texas County, an Investment in Survival, by Jim Malewitz — Thanks to a surge in drilling, La Salle County was able to finance a multi-million upgrade to its emergency response capabilities. While the oil boom has stalled, the dramatic improvements are here to stay, officials say.

Paying Off Texas Toll Roads Could Top $30 Billion, by Madlin Mekelburg — If Texas decided to pay off construction debt on nearly all of its toll roads tomorrow, the price tag would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 billion, according to a preliminary report.

Lawmakers Mull New Funding Deal For Fraud Cases, by Jay Root and Tony Plohetski — An unusual funding deal that allows a privately held insurance company to pay for government prosecutions of its fraud case has stirred calls for change at the Texas Capitol.

FDA Revises Rules for Drug-Induced Abortions, by Alexa Ura — Texas women will be able to obtain medical abortions later into their pregnancies under newly approved changes by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

911 Call in Senate Race to Remain Sealed Until After Election, by Edgar Walters — Records related to the mental health of state Rep. Susan King, R-Abilene, will remain sealed at least until Nov. 21, punting a potentially thorny issue for the Texas Senate candidate until after the election.

The Day Ahead

•    Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith moderates a lunch hour discussion on the Top 10 Percent Rule, featuring a conversation on the issue of fairness and access in education. The noon event takes place at the Austin Community College Highland Campus, and will be live streamed for those unable to attend in person.

•    The Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce hosts Black Business Day at the Capitol, an all-day event designed to give contractors with black-owned construction firms the chance to interact with state officials. Gov. Greg Abbott is scheduled to give a 10 a.m. address to the assembly in the Capitol extension.

•    The House Agriculture & Livestock International and Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs committees host a joint meeting at 1:30 p.m. in the John H. Reagan building to take invited testimony on promoting the export of Texas food and fiber as well as the impact on Texas of expanded U.S. trade with Cuba.

•    The joint legislative committee overseeing health and human services transition meets at 9:30 a.m. in the Senate Finance room to take invited testimony.

Elsewhere

Students won’t have to retake, finish STAAR tests affected by glitch, Austin American-Statesman

Online STAAR problems continue, San Antonio Express-News

Chasnoff: Candidate dressed as “gay Hitler”, San Antonio Express-News

Fenves vows faster response after UT student alleges racial attack, Austin American-Statesman

Former Baylor student to file lawsuit over school’s handling of Elliott sexual assault, Waco Tribune-Herald

Health insurers fear Texas trial lawyers are seeking billions, but attorneys say that’s hype, The Dallas Morning News

Texas bullet train project pushing for Japan-friendly rules, Nikkei Asian Review

Crude's rally has run out of steam, Houston Chronicle

Why Wisconsin’s “Never Trump” movement is different, Politico

Trump: If abortions are banned, women who seek them should face ‘punishment’, The Washington Post

Emails: Cruz camp pushing to oust Kasich from Montana ballot, The Associated Press

Corporations Grow Nervous About Participating in Republican Convention, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“It’s a little bit of a Wild West show.”

Linda McMahon, describing the state of the 2016 Republican presidential contest to Katie Couric of Yahoo. As a former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, McMahon is perhaps more qualified than most to make that assessment.

Today in TribTalk

The true barrier to independence for people with disabilities, by Susie Angel — My cerebral palsy doesn’t prevent me from working and living my life, but it does stop me from turning a doorknob.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on April 13 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine

•    A Conversation with Dawn Buckingham on April 21 at the Austin Club

•    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

•    The Texas Tribune's third Texas-centric Trivia Night on May 1 at The Highball in Austin

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