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First Read Flash: Cruz controlled?

Houston Chronicle: "After coming under fire for urging House Republicans to stand fast on Obamacare even as he admitted defeat is likely in the Senate, Texas
Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other senators rush to the floor for a vote to end debate on the Democrats' plan to restore lower interest rates on student loans...

Houston Chronicle: "After coming under fire for urging House Republicans to stand fast on Obamacare even as he admitted defeat is likely in the Senate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz vowed Thursday to do "everything necessary" - including a filibuster - to protect legislation that would defund the Affordable Care Act.

Dallas Morning News: "Having goaded House Republicans into linking a demand to defund Obamacare with a government shutdown threat," Cruz "spent Thursday backing away from a suggestion that the cause is doomed in the Senate. Cruz left some House Republicans fuming Wednesday after claiming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would most likely prove to be an impassable roadblock for his efforts in the Senate."

NBC's Tom Curry "take a look at some of the questions that lawmakers dealing with – and the possible answers" as a possible government shutdown looms.

Politico sat down with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who "ridicule[d] the GOP as obsessed with its loathing of President Obama and hell-bent on hurting him politically, regardless the cost. She assigns little to no blame to the president (even though Democrats privately say that’s laughable) and instead portrays him as saintly, above reproach and the victim of jealousy or something worse."

USA Today: "The House approved a Republican plan Thursday to cut food stamps by $39 billion during the next decade, setting up a showdown with Democrats over the program used by nearly 48 million low-income Americans....The bill failed to draw the support of a single Democrat, many of whom have said the steep cuts would erode a key safety net depended upon by families with children, seniors, veterans and people looking for work. Fifteen Republicans also voted against the bill."

New York Times: "A year after a plan by President Obama to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants set off angry opposition, the administration will announce on Friday that it is not backing down from a confrontation with the coal industry and will press ahead with enacting the first federal carbon limits on the nation’s power companies."

USA Today: "President Obama wraps up a week of economic events Friday by talking about the auto bailout. Obama flies to Missouri for a visit to the Ford Kansas City Stamping Plant, where he will deliver the latest in a series of speeches on the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis and the current budget fight with Republicans."

Washington Post: "People in the department where Aaron Alexis was working had concerns about his job performance, and investigators are looking into whether those concerns escalated last week, the officials said.

Houston Chronicle: "Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's prayers were answered Thursday when an Austin Court of Appeals voted 2 to 1 to throw out his conviction for illegally laundering corporate money in political campaigns, but prosecutors immediately said they would appeal the latest development in the 11-year-old case. Attending a Washington, D.C., prayer group Thursday morning when his attorney called with the news, DeLay said he found vindication in the reversal of a jury verdict sentencing him to three years in prison for violating state campaign laws."

NBC News: "Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Thursday said Republicans have been “winning” recent Washington battles and laid out a roadmap for how the party can use the victories to appeal to key voting blocks that fueled President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election. The heavily speculated about potential 2016 presidential candidate said Obama's decision to seek Congressional approval for military strikes on Syria and public outrage over wide-ranging government surveillance programs have made for a great few months for the GOP. And those victories give tremendous insight into how Republicans can retake the White House in 2016, he said."

LOUISIANA: The Hill: "Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) donated his current Senate opponent's Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-La.) first reelection bid. Cassidy gave $500 to Landrieu's campaign in 2002, according to Federal Election Commission reports....Cassidy argued the donations came before Landrieu moved to the left."

MARYLAND. In no surprise, former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he won't run for governor after floating the idea earlier this year, the Washington Post reports.

MASSACHUSETTS. Boston Globe: "He’s the biggest piece missing from what’s left of the 2014 governor’s race puzzle. And he has said he will decide soon whether to enter the campaign. At the same time, US Representative Michael E. Capuano on Wednesday will also collect cash in Washington, D.C., for his congressional re-election effort. Capuano has a luncheon fund-raiser at Bistro Bis, between the Capitol and Union Station. Federal campaign funds cannot be directly used in state races."

VIRGINIAAP's Bob Lewis: "Ken Cuccinelli's campaign is airing a half-hour ad this weekend featuring the Republican gubernatorial candidate's speech to a small room full of adoring fans. Just don't look for it in prime time. It has been relegated to obscure broadcast times on Richmond, Roanoke and Norfolk stations either in early morning slots or playing Saturday and Sunday afternoons opposite college and pro football games. The total buy as of Thursday afternoon was less than $8,000."

Washington Post; Cuccinelli has leaned heavily on outside allies as the candidate tries to stay competitive on the airwaves with businessman Terry McAuliffe, whose fundraising prowess has allowed him to carve out a significantly larger presence in the pricey Northern Virginia television market. With close to seven weeks remaining until Election Day, new data from the ad tracking firm Kantar Media show that McAuliffe has outspent Cuccinelli on television ads, $5 million to $3.2 million statewide. But the Republican Governors Association has kicked in $2.5 million to help balance the scales, while the Democratic Party of Virginia has spent $2 million."

Cuccinelli's campaign released a new ad Thursday "built around the back-alley brawl over his endorsement by a Northern Virginia business group and intended to portray him as more knowledgeable and prepared to govern than" McAuliffe, the Post also notes. Meanwhile, McAuliffe's campaign "launched another televised salvo at how Cuccinelli's "office has handled a Southwest Virginia gas royalties case."