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The Brief: A 37-day mayor bets writing, ribs and real estate will put him in the U.S. Senate

Dan McQueen served as mayor of Corpus Christi for 37 days earlier this year. He's now launching an "essay and rib" contest — all in hopes of unseating U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 GOP primary.

Dan McQueen, former mayor of Corpus Christi, resigned after 37 days in office.

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What you need to know

The Republican primary in Texas will be here before you can say "March 6, 2018" — and one unconventional candidate is launching an "essay and rib" contest to fund his long-odds bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. Here's what you need to know

• You may remember Dan McQueen, who spent 37 days as Corpus Christi mayor earlier this year. Corpus Christi voters last November were fed up with city leadership and wanted to turn a new leaf. (Does this sound familiar?) So they elected McQueen, a political newcomer dubbing himself an engineer, entrepreneur and Navy veteran — and someone who could fix the city's host of problems while creating jobs. But reports questioning his credentials and behavior quickly bubbled to the surface. McQueen shunned local news media and launched Facebook rants in response. He resigned from his post in January, just weeks after being sworn in. 

• He now wants to unseat Cruz in the 2018 GOP primary — and there's some scrutiny around his fundraising strategy, the “McQueen MotorCycle Café Essay & Rib Contest." If you pay $250, write a 300-word essay about job creation and submit an original recipe for a half rack of ribs, then a two-story commercial building in downtown Corpus — plus its property tax liabilities — could be yours. But property sales via essay contests have a sketchy track record, and experts said McQueen should use caution as he tracks contest entry fees if he's actually using them to fund his Senate bid. 

• Since we're talking, let's line up the current state of this Senate race. McQueen is only one of the underdogs lined up to challenge Cruz in the GOP primary; Stefano de Stefano, a Houston-based attorney, is also on that list. As of Friday, McQueen's name was not listed in a Federal Election Commission database of candidates who have filed paperwork to run for office. Bruce Jacobson, a North Texas televangelist, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last week he is "prayerfully considering" running in the upcoming GOP primary, and on the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, launched his own long-shot bid for the post in March. 

Other stories we're watching today:

• The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs is holding a hearing in New Caney this morning to discuss how to improve the Addicks and Barker reservoirs in Houston. Texas Tribune reporter Kiah Collier is your go-to for updates.

Tribune today

• Ross Ramsey on the three Bs: bathrooms, business and ballots. 

• Two years ago, Gov. Greg Abbott removed a mock Nativity scene from the Capitol. A federal judge ruled against the governor's decision on Friday. 

• The Trump administration continues to unravel Obama-era environmental rules. What could that mean for Texas? 

• Hurricane Harvey's death toll has hit 88. For context, that's lower than Hurricane Rita's in 2005. 

Pencil us in

Join us in Victoria for a conversation on Hurricane Harvey and the Texas Gulf Coast with the mayors of Port Aransas, Victoria, Rockport and Port Lavaca on Oct. 17. 

What we're reading

• A couple of Coryell County jailers turned themselves in after one of them put pepper spray in an inmate's food. The surrenders came three days after another inmate died from a pepper spray-related altercation. (Killeen Daily Herald)

• The number of reported rapes increased at several universities in Texas in 2016. Officials say the increase is partly attributable to more people being willing to report crimes to campus authorities. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

• Five Waco ISD schools need to raise their accountability ratings, the state's top education official says. If they don't, they risk a potential shut down. (Waco Tribune-Herald)

• Are policies in Washington D.C. driving rural hospitals in Texas out of business? (San Antonio Express-News $)

• Homeowners in a Houston-area neighborhood asked officials to overhaul a faulty drainage system in May 2016. They didn't. Those residents are now blaming their utility district for the 100 homes that flooded during Harvey. (The Houston Chronicle $)

• At least 40 are now dead due to raging wildfires in California. (Los Angeles Times $)  

Quote to note

"Once you start fixing some of the damage that you guys created, because of bad journalism, man, I would love to have a conversation about it."

— Dan McQueen, former mayor of Corpus Christi, declining to discuss his fundraising efforts for a U.S. Senate bid with The Texas Tribune

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