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The Brief: Sept. 2, 2014

Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for governor, will spend his first day on the campaign trail after Labor Day unveiling a proposal to make it easier for students to get college credit for taking certain types of online courses.

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The Big Conversation

Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for governor, will spend his first day on the campaign trail after Labor Day unveiling a proposal to make it easier for students to get college credit for taking certain types of online courses.

The Tribune's Reeve Hamilton reports that these massive open online courses — referred to commonly by their acronym, MOOCs — rarely are taken for credit. Hamilton writes, "Abbott intends to make the case that to improve flexibility and affordability in higher education, credit should be offered for completing such courses."

Hamilton notes, though, that MOOCs have kicked up controversy in the world of higher ed, because of things like their low completion rates. Defenders of the MOOC have pushed back against judging courses by completion rate, suggesting that metric speaks more to "the traditional college mindset."

Abbott's rival for the Governor's Mansion — Democratic nominee Wendy Davis — holds rallies at two different college campuses today to kick off the fall campaign season with stops in five cities this week.

The papers over the weekend had several stories teeing up the horserace to come. Here's a sampling:

Labor Day means governor's race in homestretch, San Antonio Express-News

As the Fort Worth Democrat enters the final campaign stretch in a state that hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office in two decades, hard days still lie ahead.

Despite spending millions of dollars on ads targeting her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, pushing initiatives in areas including education and launching almost daily pronouncements criticizing Abbott as an Austin insider, Davis still lags behind in the polls — by a smaller margin, in some, but still behind.

Texas governor’s race: Sure thing? Or stunning upset?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

After vaulting into the race on a torrent of fanfare from her Senate filibuster last summer, Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis has consistently trailed Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott in the polls, leading some analysts to declare that the race is all but over as candidates mark the traditional Labor Day kickoff of the final nine weeks of campaigning.

But the 51-year-old former Fort Worth councilwoman and the legions of Democratic activists arrayed behind her dismiss forecasts of another Republican triumph. They assert that Democrats are within reach of the political comeback they envisioned when Davis entered the race last fall.

Kennedy: Davis still running, but scenery isn’t changing, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Voters must register by Oct. 6 for the privilege of voting against Abbott, Davis or both after the endless bombardment of ads in what may be a $100 million campaign.

But right now, it would take an asteroid strike to redirect this election.

Abbott hasn’t given Davis any room to maneuver and seems on his way to at least a 10-point victory, according to two of Texas’ most quoted political science professors. 

The Day Ahead

•    The legal challenge to Texas' voter ID law has its day in federal court today as an expected two-week trial opens in Corpus Christi.

•    GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott unveils the fourth part of his proposed education policy at a 3:30 p.m. press conference at the University of Texas at Dallas.

•    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis holds campus rallies today at the University of Houston at 5 p.m. and Prairie View A&M University at 8 p.m.

Trib Must-Reads

Analysis: Ruling Provides Candidates a Talking Point, by Ross Ramsey

For TX Charities, a Struggle to Send Aid Across Border, by Julián Aguilar

Texas Voter ID Law Trial Begins in Corpus Christi, by Christine Ayala and John Reynolds

On Environment Issues, Bush Takes More Moderate Tone (w/ interview), by Neena Satija

Momentum for Four-Year Degrees at Community Colleges, by Reeve Hamilton


Texas voter ID case to begin in Corpus Christi, Austin American-Statesman

Abbott’s Houston raid didn’t end with arrests, but shut down voter drive, The Dallas Morning News

Rick Perry vs. Ted Cruz: The battle of Texas titans heats up, Austin American-Statesman

Fikac: Perry hires belie 'What, me worry?' persona, San Antonio Express-News

What’s next for border funding?, The Hill

NC offered $100M for Toyota HQ, twice Texas bid, The Associated Press

Crude rides Texas' rails with little oversight, San Antonio Express-News

Campaign workers tell FBI they gave voters cocaine for commissioner’s 2012 bid, McAllen Monitor

Former West Texas senator looms large in race to replace him, Houston Chronicle

SD 28 candidate Delwin Jones in critical condition, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Quote to Note

“I just assume everything I do is public, campaign finance being one of them. How can you be transparent, when — for no good reason — after two years, your documents disappear.”

— San Antonio District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña, criticizing a city policy of keeping campaign finance reports for two years, the state minimum

Today in TribTalk

Putting politics ahead of facts on AP U.S. history, by Susan Griffin

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With UT System Regent Wallace Hall, on Sept. 4 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa and Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri, on Sept. 10 at The Austin Club

•    The full program has been announced for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival, Sept. 19-21.

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, on Sept. 24 at the UTSA Downtown Campus in San Antonio.

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Energy Environment Higher education Politics Greg Abbott Rick Perry Ted Cruz Wendy Davis