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The Brief: Sept. 22, 2014

Texas politics was the big conversation in Austin and even outside the state with this weekend's Texas Tribune Festival.

Land Commissioner candidate George P. Bush takes a question from the public at TribFest Sept. 19, 2014.

The Big Conversation

Texas politics was the big conversation in Austin and even outside the state with this weekend's Texas Tribune Festival. Two political writers for the Washington PostDan Balz and Karen Tumulty — moderated a pair of keynote conversations and also wrote about their observations from the weekend's activities.

Balz writes, "Texas might qualify now as the epicenter of the conservative movement across the country," citing the example of Land Commissioner candidate George P. Bush's refusal, when asked this weekend, to endorse his own dad — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — for president in 2016.

Balz noted that the younger Bush acknowledged Ted Cruz as the future of the GOP. "Even someone named Bush, apparently, is cautious about running as a Republican in Texas on the platform and principles of the kinder-gentler party of the family patriarch, former president George H.W. Bush," Balz writes.

Bush's handling of the Jeb Bush endorsement question made an impression as well on Tumulty, who wrote about the emerging crowded field of Texas Republicans with national aspirations.

"That so many Texans could be in the Republican mix for 2016 says as much about the evolving, unsettled identity of the party as it does about the depth of its bench here. ... Perry deflected a question about if and how Cruz's entry in the race to run might affect his own calculation. But if both state officials run, 'it really complicates things for money raising between Ted Cruz and Rick Perry,' said Matthew Dowd, who was chief strategist for George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. 'There's a lot of money in Texas for the Republican nominee, but there's a limited number of people who get tapped.'"

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Rick Perry will be in Brownsville to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for the SpaceX Commercial Launch Facility.

•    The Senate Economic Development Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to check on implementation of legislation from last year requiring drug testing for unemployment insurance claimants. The panel will also look at recommendations on a process for reviewing economic development programs. (agenda)

Trib Must-Reads

At UH, a Push for Tier One Prompts Praise and Questions, by Reeve Hamilton

Patrick's Push to Repeal DREAM Act Could Face Criticism, by Alexa Ura

Analysis: Contenders' Dreams of Political Buzzer Shots, by Ross Ramsey

Abbott Sets Sights on "The Bluest Part of a Red State", by Jay Root

Elsewhere

Houghton asks Texas officials to address surging highway deaths related to truck crashes, Houston Chronicle

Senators donate little cash in colleagues' race, San Antonio Express-News

Dallas dentist pouring his own money into U.S. Senate campaign, The Dallas Morning News

Congressional group calls for Obama to intervene on water with Mexico, McAllen Monitor

The Rick Perry legacy: government overseers who think like he does, Austin American-Statesman

Third party candidates could play a role in governor’s race, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

NASA views "new space" with hope, support — and wariness, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

“They call us the three Amigos.”

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, answering a question at The Texas Tribune Festival on his siding with liberal colleagues Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., against arming and training Syrian rebels to fight ISIS

Today in TribTalk

An unlikely alliance in Houston: art and oil, by J.J. Harris

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    A Panel Discussion on Demographic Change and the Digital Divide, on Sept. 30 at LBJ School of Public Affairs in Austin

•    A Conversation With Kathie Glass, 2014 Libertarian Nominee for Governor, on Oct. 2 at The Austin Club

•    A Panel Discussion on Changing Population, Changing Health Care, on Oct. 6 at Rice University's Baker Institute in Houston

•    A Conversation With Sam Houston, 2014 Democratic Nominee for Attorney General, on Oct. 16 at The Austin Club

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