The Big Conversation
The Ted Cruz campaign plans stops all across Indiana today in a final push for victory in what is likely a make-or-break state for the Texas senator.
The polls, though, are indicating it could be a difficult day at the ballot box on Tuesday for Cruz. The Tribune's Patrick Svitek reported that an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday morning found Donald Trump leading Cruz by 15 points in the state — 49 percent to 34 percent.
"Even worse," Svitek wrote, "58 percent of respondents registered their disapproval of Cruz's deal with [Ohio Gov. John] Kasich, with only 22 percent calling it a major factor in deciding their vote.
"Cruz's campaign is pushing forward, dispatching him and seven surrogates — including Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — on 10 stops across the state Monday, an unprecedented schedule of campaigning that nonetheless does not come close to its busiest day ahead of the Iowa caucuses. All the while, the campaign and its allies are pouring millions of dollars into digital, radio and TV advertising throughout Indiana, largely attack ads against Trump."
Politico, meanwhile, was reporting over the weekend that Cruz aides were saying that a defeat in Indiana "would significantly narrow" his chances at denying Trump the nomination.
"Within the campaign, some are turning to the question of what’s next. One senior aide said there had been no discussion about dropping out before the final primary contests are held on June 7 but noted that Cruz wouldn’t be eager to prolong a campaign he was convinced he couldn’t win. ... The private angst within the campaign stands in stark contrast to public statements from Cruz himself, as the candidate showed no hint of concern in an appearance before the California Republican Party convention here on Saturday."
The New York Times reported that the momentum-sapping defeats recently suffered by Cruz is also hurting his efforts at courting convention delegates, a strategy that he's relying on to snag the nomination during a contested convention.
"It turns out that delegates — like ordinary voters — are susceptible to shifts in public opinion. And as the gravitational pull of Mr. Trump’s recent primary landslides draws more Republicans toward him, Mr. Cruz’s support among the party’s 2,472 convention delegates is softening, threatening his hopes of preventing Mr. Trump’s nomination by overtaking him in a floor fight."
Delegates and party officials told the Times that they "are ready to move on and unite behind someone so that Republicans are not hopelessly divided heading into the general election. And many delegates cite concerns about whether Mr. Cruz is really a better choice."
Trib Must Reads
Analysis: A Texas Judge Takes Voter ID to Court, by Ross Ramsey — The only Democrat in an elected statewide post in Texas is suing to upend the state’s photo voter ID law, saying it’s an unconstitutional obstacle to a legal activity: voting.
Energy Future Holdings Files Second Bankruptcy Plan, by Jim Malewitz — Energy Future Holdings, Texas’ largest power company, is going back to the drawing board in its efforts to emerge from one of the largest corporate bankruptcies in American history.
State Spending More on Mental Health Care, but Waitlist for Beds Grows, by Edgar Walters — Texas lawmakers tout recent improvements to the state’s mental health safety net, citing new funding and and the expansion of certain programs. But the state still struggles to provide psychiatric care for all patients who need it.
Rep. Ron Reynolds on Losing End of Malpractice Suit, by Alana Rocha — Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, already facing the possible suspension of his law license over charges he illegally solicited clients, was ordered Friday to pay $504,000 to a former client for keeping her share of a settlement.
Texas Lawmaker Warns of Outer Space Death Pulse, by Jim Malewitz — A Texas state senator is redefining scorched-earth politics, trying to make sure Americans — and Texans — are prepared for electromagnetic pulses from space that could spell the end of civilization.
Former Paxton Aide: I Didn’t Ask For Departure Deal, by Morgan Smith — Allison Castle, a former aide to Attorney General Ken Paxton, said Friday that he asked her to resign her post and that she did not ask for nor negotiate a now-controversial departure package.
Sunset Review Suggests Changes, New Name at Railroad Commission, by Jim Malewitz — The Texas Railroad Commission should beef up its oversight of oil and gas drilling, pipeline safety and abandoned wells and change its name to reflect what it actually does, the latest sunset review recommends.
Texas Congressman Plans Bill to Speed Hurricane Protection, by Neena Satija — Two days after U.S. Sen. John Cornyn filed legislation seeking to expedite a hurricane protection plan for Texas, U.S. Rep. Randy Weber said he expects to introduce a companion bill in the U.S. House in the coming weeks.
STAAR Passing Rates Flat Under Higher Standards, by Kiah Collier — Passing rates on the statewide standardized exam known as STAAR have barely changed among fifth- and eighth-graders, newly released testing results show.
Texas Court: Houston Overstepped with Air Pollution Rules, by Jordan Rudner — In a victory for a coalition of large industrial facilities, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that the city of Houston illegally subverted state law by passing two ordinances designed to regulate air pollution.
Texas A&M-Commerce President Dies, by Matthew Watkins — Dan Jones, the president of Texas A&M University-Commerce, died Friday morning, the university announced in a note to students.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Says He'll Vote for Ted Cruz, by Patrick Svitek — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Friday announced he would be voting for Ted Cruz for president, giving the Texas senator a much-needed boost four days before a potentially make-or-break primary for his campaign.
Supreme Court: Voter ID Law Will Stay in Effect For Now, by Jordan Rudner — Even as a federal appeals court prepares to review the constitutionality of Texas’ controversial voter ID law, the law will remain in effect, the U.S. Supreme Court said in an order Friday.
The Day Ahead
• Gov. Greg Abbott will address the Texas National Day of Prayer Breakfast gathering at 7 a.m. in Austin.
• Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will present medals and resolutions to surviving family members of peace officers who died in the line of duty in 2015 as part of an 11 a.m. memorial ceremony on the south steps of the Texas Capitol. The ceremony is hosted by the Texas Chapters of Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.).
• The House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the portion of the budget funding natural resources, business and economic development and regulatory agencies holds a 10 a.m. interim hearing in the Capitol extension to look at funding for the state parks system.
• The House Environmental Regulation Committee meets at 1 p.m. in the Capitol extension to examine how well local entities are keeping waterways clear of trash and debris.
Flooding sweeps oil, chemicals into rivers, El Paso Times
Uber, Lyft spending now at $8.1 million in Prop. 1 race, Austin American-Statesman
Texas leading nation in number of refugees resettled, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Halliburton, Baker Hughes end merger deal, Houston Chronicle
Apple in Austin: More than 2,000 new jobs created since 2012, Austin American-Statesman
Property-tax lenders win appeal, San Antonio Express-News
Fikac: Legislative leaders take fresh aim at property taxes, San Antonio Express-News
More Texas women taking abortion pill now, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Medicaid dental clinics targeted, accused of overtreatment, Houston Chronicle
Texas under Trump: Experts see economic trouble, uncertain on energy and abortion, The Dallas Morning News
Patrick baptized, builds Texas business ties on first trip to Israel, Austin American-Statesman
Players, coaches on board with new UIL pitch count proposals, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Quote to Note
“Ted is an immigrant. He is Hispanic. We can unify this party.”
— Heidi Cruz, in a remark about her husband at an Indiana campaign stop on Saturday that prompted the campaign to say afterward that she meant to call Cruz the son of an immigrant
News From Home
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Trib Events for the Calendar
• A Live Members-Only TribCast on May 4 at The Townsend in Austin
• A Conversation on Mental Health Matters on May 10 at KLRU Studio 6A in Austin
• The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin