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The Brief: March 4, 2014

Another dose of winter weather expected to hit overnight from Austin and San Antonio to Houston is injecting a note of uncertainty into today's party primary elections.

Vote signs outside early voting locations in Austin on Feb. 23, 2014.

The Big Conversation

Another dose of winter weather expected to hit overnight from Austin and San Antonio to Houston is injecting a note of uncertainty into today's party primary elections. On Monday evening, the Travis County clerk announced that polling places there would not open until 11 a.m. And in Williamson County, to the north, some polling places were being delayed until 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

The expectation on Monday evening was that polling places would be kept open later in Travis County, possibly until 9 p.m., to compensate partially for the late opening in the morning. A judge would have to order an extension to keep voting locations open past 7 p.m. At this point, it's hard to know how extended hours in major population centers like Travis County will affect the reporting of vote tallies tonight. Will the secretary of state hold off on releasing early vote totals while votes are still being cast in significant numbers? All in all, it looks like a later-than-usual night for counting votes.

The bad weather is also expected to dampen turnout (stories here and here) on primary day, making early voting turnout even more important. Also, it could make the votes cast in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex — north of the bad weather — more influential in determining the final results.

Elsewhere, the Tribune's Ross Ramsey has a rundown on the important questions today's primary contests can be expected to answer. For instance, will John Cornyn break 60 percent support from his party's voters to return to the U.S. Senate? Will Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis, the major parties' standard bearers in the governor's race, have a strong showing or will they show weaknesses among portions of their base? And in a handful of key legislative races, will the voters side with establishment Republican candates or with the insurgent Tea Party candidates? Finally, will Democrats turn aside — at the request of the party's leadership — the insurgent candidacies of Kesha Rogers and Kinky Friedman, who are running for U.S. Senate and ag commissioner, respectively.

The Day Ahead

It's Election Day and candidates are deploying across the state to await the returns with supporters. Here's a partial list:

•    GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is in San Antonio.

•    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is in Fort Worth.

•    Democratic lite guv candidate Leticia Van de Putte is in San Antonio.

•    Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is in Houston, while GOP challengers Jerry Patterson, Todd Staples and Dan Patrick are in Austin, Austin and Houston, respectively.

Today in the Trib

Stovall Files FEC Complaints Against Stockman: "Two federal complaints filed by Dwayne Stovall, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, accuse fellow primary opponent and U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman of putting Texans' personal information at risk."

Despite New Law, Algebra II Still a College Requirement: "Though a new law removes algebra II as a core requirement for a high school diploma, many Texas universities say they have no plans to change their admissions standards to drop the advanced math course."

Spending on Detained Immigrants Fell in 2013 (w/ interactive): "The cost of housing undocumented immigrants in Texas county jails fell about 8 percent in 2013 from the previous year. Use this interactive to explore trends in detentions of undocumented immigrants in county jails."


GOP poised to nominate staunchly conservative slate, The Dallas Morning News

Big donors tread softly in Texas lieutenant governor race, The Dallas Morning News

University of Texas System regents to give Kyle Janek serious look for chancellor, source says, Austin American-Statesman

Supreme Court refuses Farmers Branch immigration ordinance, The Dallas Morning News

Court Says BP’s Spill Agreement Is Binding, The New York Times

EPA vows new rules will clean up the air, Houston Chronicle

S.A., Texas could gain in wake of troop cuts, BRAC, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"This is the beginning of an epic battle. There’s a strong likelihood that the Fifth Circuit [Court of Appeals] is going to overturn this decision. If Texas’ gay marriage laws are not constitutional, there’s no guarantee that the court won’t open up marriage to polygamy and polyandry."

— Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz, telling the Texas Observer what might happen should the court decision knocking down Texas' ban on gay marriage be upheld

News From Home

The Texas Tribune delivers nonpartisan statewide reporting, multimedia and interactive data applications so that Texans can make better decisions not only during election times, but all times. As a nonprofit organization, we are funded by engaged Texans like yourself. Join our community of everyday insiders by becoming a member today.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Live Post-Primary Election TribCast at the Austin Club, 3/5

•    A Conversation With Sen. Wendy Davis, 2014 Democratic Candidate for Governor, at Stateside at the Paramount, 3/6

•    A Conversation With Sen. Charles Schwertner and Reps. John Raney and Kyle Kacal at Texas A&M University in College Station, 3/27

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

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Health care Politics Dan Patrick David Dewhurst Greg Abbott Rick Perry Wendy Davis