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The Brief: July 15, 2013

As abortion fervor faded from the Capitol over the weekend, the spotlight turned to Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Abbott campaign signs taped to the back of the press riser at La Villita in San Antonio on July 14, 2013.

The Big Conversation

As abortion fervor faded from the Capitol over the weekend, the spotlight turned to Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Late Friday night, the state Senate, as expected, voted 19-11 in favor of sweeping new abortion restrictions that incited weeks of heated protests at the Capitol and whipped up a storm of national media attention.

Despite energized demonstrations outside the chamber, a few outbursts from spectators in the gallery and controversy earlier in the day over confiscations, the chamber averted the types of disruptions that helped derail the bill in the first special session.

The Senate vote — the final hurdle for the legislation — came after several hours of impassioned yet familiar debate between Republicans, who said the bill would improve women's safety, and Democrats, who said the bill trampled on women's rights.

In her closing remarks on the floor, Sen. Wendy Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat whose 11-hour filibuster of the legislation in the first special session made her an overnight celebrity, alluded to optimism among Texas Democrats that Republicans' attempts to restrict access to abortion have sparked a backlash.

"The fight for the future of Texas is just beginning," she said.

Davis and other Democrats have predicted that the legislation — which would ban abortion after 20 weeks and potentially close up to 90 percent of the state's abortion clinics — would face immediate legal challenges.

"There will be a lawsuit — I promise you," said Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, according to The Associated Press.

Gov. Rick Perry, however, said on Saturday that the bill would survive any such challenges.

"We wouldn't have passed it if we didn't think it was constitutional," Perry said.

Meanwhile, as the Capitol cooled down after weeks of drama, attention shifted on Sunday to Abbott, who declared his candidacy for governor. In San Antonio, his first stop on a five-day, 10-city tour, Abbott trumpeted his political career, which he said has prepared him to lead Texas on a path toward "boundless opportunity and limitless imagination."

"When it comes to our freedom and our future, I will never, I will never, stop fighting," said Abbott, the front-runner to replace Perry. "That’s why I’m asking you — the people of Texas — to elect me as your next governor."

Abbott's tour this week will also include stops in North Texas, Houston, Austin and — in a sign that he hopes to reach out to the state's quickly growing Hispanic population — El Paso and McAllen.

Culled

•    On abortion, Abbott's answers defy standards (San Antonio Express-News): "The language of abortion is usually clear-cut. Then you talk to someone like Attorney General Greg Abbott. It's clear that Abbott, aiming to be Texas' next governor, opposes abortion. But when you ask the standard question — whether he would allow exceptions — he doesn't give the standard answer. 'If you're really pro-life, you want to save every life, but that also includes the mother's life,' he said in an interview at his in-laws' San Antonio home, where a front room is decorated with crosses and icons of the Catholic faith he shares with his wife, Cecilia, and her family. 'The life of the mother is just as precious as the life of the child.'"

•    A Pill Available in Mexico Is a Texas Option for Abortion (The New York Times): "At the Whole Woman’s Health center here, a young woman predicted what others would do if the state’s stringent new abortion bill approved late Friday forces clinics like this one to close: cross the border to Mexico to seek an 'abortion pill.'"

•    Zimmerman verdict draws hundreds of protesters to Texas Capitol (Austin American-Statesman): "Hundreds of protesters fanned the sidewalk in front of the Texas Capitol on Sunday evening, criticizing the George Zimmerman verdict as proof that racism exists in the justice system. Austin police and Department of Public Safety troopers estimated between 200 and 300 people rallied Sunday — many of whom were wearing hoodies and holding print outs of Trayvon Martin’s face."

•    Cruz heading to New Hampshire as part of early state swing (The Associated Press): "Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is heading to New Hampshire as part of a summer swing through early voting states on the presidential calendar. The freshman senator, a tea party favorite thought to be weighing a 2016 presidential bid, is scheduled to headline an Aug. 23 fundraiser for the New Hampshire GOP."

Quote to Note: "We both went to Afghanistan four years ago, I was his roommate. For seven days, I heard him talk about his favorite subject, Rick Perry." — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Rick Perry, in an appearance Sunday on CNN

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