Axios Austin

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Whaddya know, it's Friday!

☀️ Today's weather: Sunny with a high of 74 — and expect temps to reach the low 80s over the weekend.

  • Winter, it was nice knowing you.

Today's newsletter is 941 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Cornyn's Paxton-shaped Achilles' heel

Sen. John Cornyn interviewed by reporters at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

John Cornyn, the senior senator from Texas, has a Ken Paxton problem.

Why it matters: Republicans have a strong chance of retaking the Senate, and Cornyn announced Thursday he wants to succeed Mitch McConnell as GOP Senate leader.

  • "Throughout my time I've built a track record of listening to colleagues and seeking consensus, while leading the fight to stop bad policies that are harmful to our nation and the conservative cause," Cornyn said in a statement Thursday announcing his bid.

The intrigue: After former President Trump won the New Hampshire primary in January, Cornyn kissed the ring, publicly declaring his support for the former president.

What they're saying: "It will be difficult for Cornyn to be an effective leader since he is anti-Trump, anti-gun, and will be focused on his highly competitive primary campaign in 2026," Paxton tweeted Wednesday.

  • "Hard to run from prison, Ken," Cornyn, who is a former Texas attorney general, shot back at the indicted Trump surrogate.

Between the lines: "I expect the intra-party battle for party leader will — in this time when fealty to Trump matters more than fidelity to an ideology — be a display of who can best front the Trump agenda," Andrea Hatcher, a politics professor at the University of the South and the author of the book "Majority Leadership in the U.S. Senate," tells Axios.

💭 Our thought bubble: Cornyn is a savvy operator, and to get the Senate leadership job his constituents will be the other 50-odd GOP members.

  • In this clubby group, Paxton is something of a hinterlands novelty — which is probably why Cornyn feels emboldened to dish out retorts.

What's next: This could be building to a Republican primary battle royale in 2026, when Cornyn will be up for re-election.

Cornyn's competition

2. Rental bookings soar ahead of eclipse

This pad, billed as "Lake Austin Oasis," includes a telescope and is booked for the date of the eclipse. Photo: Courtesy of Airbnb

Austin, along with the greater Hill Country, has emerged as one of the most-booked destinations in the U.S. for the solar eclipse weekend, per new data from Airbnb.

Why it matters: Looks like a lot of people are headed this way.

By the numbers: Searches for short-term rentals along the solar eclipse path in the U.S. for the period of April 5-8 have increased 1,000% compared to the same period in 2023, per Airbnb.

What they're saying: The mayor of Llano, about a 90-minute drive northwest of Austin, advised residents to stock up on supplies.

  • "Be prepared to hunker down and stay home for a couple of days as the traffic in the area may prevent easy movement," Mayor Marion Bishop wrote on Facebook.

Threat level: Preparing for a tourist surge, Bell County preemptively issued a disaster declaration.

3. 🤠 The Roundup: Wrangling the news

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

⚖️ PFLAG, a national organization for LGBTQ allies, has sued Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after, it said, he demanded information about the group's work with transgender minors. (KUT)

🏛️ A federal judge yesterday temporarily put on hold a Texas law that would allow local police to arrest and deport immigrants suspected of illegally crossing the U.S. border. (Axios)

  • Meanwhile, former President Trump, accompanied by Gov. Greg Abbott, and President Biden made dueling trips yesterday to the Texas-Mexico border.

🚨 Dorsey Bryan Hardeman, the 75 year-old founder of Continental Automotive Group, which operates six Austin car dealerships, was arrested yesterday, accused of starting a fire Sunday at the downtown Austin building that formerly housed Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop. (KXAN)

4. Friday news quiz

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Get your virtual pencils out from behind your ear — it's quiz time.

Answer the following correctly and you could earn a shout-out in Monday's newsletter.

  • Just hit reply to this email.
  1. What could soon be named for Joan Means Khabele?
  2. Is the share of Austin kids heading to private school increasing or decreasing?
  3. Do mosquito hawks eat mosquitoes?
Sponsored event listings

Stay booked and busy

"You've Been Summoned" Book Signing at Half Price Books on South Lamar on March 2: Meet Lindsey Lamar and her interactive mystery novel this weekend at Half Price Books. (Think Hunt-A-Killer games meet Lucy Foley novel.) Whether you're a fan of the author or simply love playing detective, this event is perfect for bookworms of all ages.

Hosting an event? Email [email protected].

5. 🍳 Brunch munch: Bureau de Poste

The eggs Benedict with avocado instead of ham. Photo: Chloe Gonzales/Axios

👋 Texas Editor Chloe here! A few friends and I wanted to branch out to a new brunch place, and we ended up at Tiny Grocer's Bureau de Poste.

The big picture: The little grocery shop and French bistro opened in the Hyde Park post office that closed in 2021.

  • I owe my existence to USPS — my parents met working there in the '80s — so I felt charmed by the idea of enjoying a meal with my friends in an old post office.

The vibe: The restaurant has a spacious patio to enjoy on our increasingly pleasant days.

  • The interior is small — it's in the Tiny Grocer, after all — and intimate. It was fun to chat and eat while people were going about their days and shopping around us.

Details: When we asked our server what the most popular dishes were, she listed just about everything on the menu. Plus, she suggested we get several different plates to share among us.

  • We followed her lead.
A cheese board with three cheeses, a bowl of jam and a few slices of bread.
The cheese board was a perfect starter. Photo: Chloe Gonzales/Axios

To order: Our group loved the cheese board ($21), which came with three cheeses, nuts, jam, bread and a little piece of honeycomb.

  • We were also fans of the eggs Benedict with avocado instead of ham ($18), and my sister loved her croque madame, with ham, gruyere, bechamel and an egg ($18).
  • The tomato bisque ($10) was lovely, and the gluten-free bread I substituted was pillowy soft — a difficult thing to achieve.
  • Of note: The whipped cream in the crepe ($14) wasn't our favorite — it was a little too light in both texture and flavor.

If you go: Brunch is served from 10am-2pm Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant is open for dinner from 5-10pm every day.

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Kate Sommers-Dawes and Anjelica Tan for copy editing this newsletter.

🧐 Asher is reading this "Austin Cultura" interview with Austin Opera's curator of Hispanic and Latinx programming.

🐈 Nicole is out.

Have a great weekend y'all!