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The Brief: McCaul, in Austin, doesn’t deny possible Senate run in 2018

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, chastised U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Tuesday, refusing to say if the latter was fit to be president.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul at a Texas Tribune event in Austin on Oct. 25, 2016.

The Big Conversation

In an interview with Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, wouldn’t say if he plans on challenging U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for the Senate in 2018.

McCaul, who’s been advising Donald Trump on national security and in debate preparation, said he’s focused on making sure his party’s candidate wins the presidency. He didn’t shy away from criticizing Cruz, however, for neglecting his home state during his own unsuccessful bid for the presidency. "I think he's spent a lot of time since Day One running for president. I think we deserve somebody in the Senate who is going to be representing the interests of the state of Texas,” McCaul said. 

After Cruz declined to endorse Trump at the Republican National Convention in July, GOP donors and state politicians encouraged McCaul to challenge Cruz. When asked if he was considering running Tuesday, McCaul said he was contemplating various options, including serving in a presidential administration or as House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman when his term on the Homeland Security Committee expires in 2019. 

Besides his possible Senate run, McCaul was also asked his thoughts on the Trump campaign, as the Tribune’s Abby Livingston reports. And while McCaul said his endorsement behind Trump remains firm, he repeatedly declined to say whether or not Trump is fit for the presidency. "I'm not going to be associated with everything that comes out of his mouth," McCaul said. "He's going to surround himself with very capable people."

Trib Must Reads

U.S.-funded programs try to convince Central Americans to stay home, by Jay Root — The United States is helping fund anti-gang initiatives and jobs programs in Central America, trying to decrease the flow of migrants heading north for the Texas-Mexico border. 

Analysis: Politicians’ hearing improves when their jobs are on the line, by Ross Ramsey — Everybody wants to see the election results in a couple of weeks, but politicians — those who survive, that is — will be looking for something more: Instructions from voters.

Dallas County sees cluster of competitive Texas House races, by Brandon Formby — Four Republican incumbents in North Texas are fighting off Democratic challengers in what could be some of November's closest contests.

Amid early voting rush, Texas sees voter ID hiccups, by Jim Malewitz — Some Texans are complaining of years-old posters and poll workers who were inaccurately describing the state's newly softened voter identification rules.

DART approves rail expansions, but debate over priorities isn't over, by Brandon Formby — Transit agency moving ahead with suburban rail line and downtown subway, but not everyone is happy

Texas getting $190 million as judge signs VW emissions fraud deal, by Kiah Collier — VW is atoning for its massive emissions scandal in a $15 billion settlement. A federal judge formally signed off on the deal Tuesday.

New urbanists skeptical of North Texas transit agency's expansion plan, by Brandon Formby — Dallas Area Rapid Transit's plan to build a new suburban rail line and make a second downtown train route a subway is drawing questions.

Early voting is breaking records in Texas’ 10 biggest counties, by Bobby Blanchard — Some counties saw up to twice the number of votes cast Monday as they did on the same day in 2012.

The Day Ahead 

•    The Senate Finance Committee will meet in the afternoon to hear invited testimony on Child Protective Services' plan to ensure at-risk children receive timely contact after new data revealed Texas investigators failed to check on thousands of the state's "highest-priority" kids. 


(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

No, #BallotSelfies are not allowed in Texas voting booths, KXAN

200 Texas small businesses oppose transgender bathroom law, Austin American-Statesman 

Voters in Texas say machines changed Trump votes to Clinton, but elections officials insist it's just user error, The Dallas Morning News 

Trump could affect the down ballot races in Texas, KHOU 

Senators to take up cost of foster care fixes, Houston Chronicle 

Sex assault reports at Baylor nearly quadrupled in 2015, report says, The Dallas Morning News  

Oilfield cutbacks continue in the early steps of a potential recovery, Houston Chronicle 

Quote to Note

"[Hillary Clinton] has all of these Democrats dreaming that Texas might turn blue, but you knew that it was a scam when she trotted out Wendy Davis as one of her surrogates. ... Last time she was involved in a campaign, she lost by 20 percentage points." 

— Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday in Houston, amid claims that Texas may be a toss-up state this November

Today in TribTalk

Texas still has a long way to get it right on voter registration, by Mimi Marziani — Until we address systemic barriers to registration, we'll remain a national outlier.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   "Along Came Kinky" Screening and Conversation on Oct. 27 at the LBJ Library

•   A Symposium on Transportation on Nov. 3 at Texas A&M University - Rudder Tower 

•   A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke on Nov. 4 at The Austin Club 

•   Live Post-Election TribCast on Nov. 9 at The Austin Club 

•   A Conversation with state Reps. Andrew Murr and Jason Isaac on Nov. 14 at Schreiner University in Kerrville

•   A Conversation with Michael K. Young, President of Texas A&M University on Dec. 1 at The Austin Club

•   San Antonio & the Legislature: A Preview of the 85th on Dec. 2 at University of Texas at San Antonio – Downtown Campus

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