• Texas Miscellany (Public Policy Polling): "Looking towards the 2016 Presidential race, Texas voters are a lot more enthusiastic about Ted Cruz than Rick Perry. 27% of Republicans in the state say Cruz would be their top choice for the nomination to 15% for Jeb Bush, 11% for Rand Paul and Chris Christie, and 9% for Paul Ryan. Perry comes in 6th place at 7%, leading only Marco Rubio at 6%, Rick Santorum at 4%, and Bobby Jindal at 3%. … When it comes to general election match ups for President in the state Hillary Clinton leads Perry 48/44, but trails the other Republicans we tested by 3-9 points. She's down 46/43 to Jeb Bush, 49/44 to Ted Cruz, and 47/38 to Chris Christie."
• Audio: House lawmakers’ candid abortion conversation (San Antonio Express-News): "Just minutes after a House panel Wednesday passed a package of sweeping abortion restrictions, Reps. Donna Howard, a Democrat, and Steve Toth and Bill Zedler, both staunchly pro-life Republicans, got into an interesting and at times heated discussion."
• Tommy Williams passes on comptroller race (Houston Chronicle): "Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, announced Wednesday he will not seek the office of Texas Comptroller in the 2014 Republican primary. Williams said his job as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee was 'incompatible with the demands of simultaneously running for a statewide election. After careful consideration I feel I can best serve our state and the people of Southeast Texas in my current role as State Senator and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.'"
• Texas Rep. Stefani Carter close to announcing bid for railroad commissioner (The Dallas Morning News): "State Rep. Stefani Carter is expected to announce a candidacy for railroad commissioner, according the sources close to the Dallas Republican. Carter said recently that she was considering a 2014 statewide run, with the possibilities being railroad commissioner and attorney general. She apparently decided on trying to replace Republican Barry Smitherman on the railroad commission. Smitherman is expected to run next year for attorney general."
• Can Rick Perry overcome last presidential run? (CNN): "Texas Gov. Rick Perry has found himself squarely in the middle of the national political conversation as he clashes with Democrats over a restrictive anti-abortion bill that has drawn thousands of protesters to Austin."
New in The Texas Tribune
• Congressional Hispanics Have Not Endorsed Border Surge: "After the sudden resignation of one of its members, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday reiterated that it has not endorsed a controversial provision of the U.S. Senate-backed immigration bill that calls for more fencing and boots on the border."
• The Polling Center: Public Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage: "A trend of increasing support for some sort of legal recognition of same-sex relationships in both Texas and the country presents Republican politicians with a familiar dilemma."
• Census Interactive: GOP Strongholds Getting Older: Some of the state's most Republican counties are seeing sharp growth in the number of residents who are 65 and older, according to revised county population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Use this interactive to explore the numbers.
• Interactive: How Texas' Proposed Abortion Restrictions Stack Up: Use our interactive to see which of Texas' existing abortion facilities would meet the new standards being debated in the second special legislative session, and to compare them with restrictions in other states.