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The Brief: Nov. 14, 2014

Seeking to quell a revolt before it has time to develop, allies of House Speaker Joe Straus late on Thursday night claimed to have the backing of an overwhelming majority of House GOP members.

House Speaker Joe Straus gavels out the 83rd Legislative session at Sine Die 5:03 PM on May 27, 2013.

The Big Conversation

Seeking to quell a revolt before it has time to develop, allies of House Speaker Joe Straus late on Thursday night claimed to have the backing of an overwhelming majority of House GOP members.

The Tribune's Aman Batheja reported that a letter sent out after 10 p.m. and signed by seven GOP members of the House contained the claim that more than 80 percent of the caucus support Straus' re-election. The letter was signed by Reps. Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake, Myra Crownover of Denton, James Frank of Wichita Falls, Phil King of Weatherford, Tan Parker of Flower Mound, Ron Simmons of Carrollton and Drew Springer of Muenster.

Talk of a speaker's race that could spur a showdown on the first day of the next legislative session picked up urgency this week with two developments: Capriglione saying at a Tarrant County Tea Party meeting on Monday that he would not back the challenger Scott Turner, who a day later in an interview with Batheja vowed to force a floor vote.

In the letter released on Thursday night, Batheja writes, the Straus allies claim that "fewer than 20 members of the House are currently backing Turner. Neither Straus nor Turner has released a full list of backers. Springer told the Tribune late Thursday that neither Straus nor his allies have collected pledge cards.

“'To my knowledge there is no official list,' Springer said. 'That is us talking to the 98 members of the Republican Party.'”

The Day Ahead

•    U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is in Austin to speak on freedom of the internet. His 2:30 p.m. remarks from the Capital Factory will be livestreamed on the Tribune's website.

•    The House Select Committee on Transportation Funding, Expenditures & Finance meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Extension. (agenda)

•    The House International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Houston to discuss ways to increase international trade. (agenda)

Trib Must-Reads

Prison Officials Seek Ways to Recruit, Retain Guards, by Brandi Grissom

Giroir Prepping State for Ebola or Next Virus, by Reeve Hamilton

Analysis: Local Prize Could Ease Sting of Recent Loss, by Ross Ramsey

Feds Seek Fewer Holds on Undocumented Immigrants, by Julián Aguilar

Two San Antonio Democrats Eyeing Villarreal's House Seat, by Alexa Ura

Business Group: Stop Gas Tax Diversions, by Christine Ayala

Abbott Appointee Endorsed Medicaid Expansion, by Edgar Walters

Cornyn Picked to Be Next Senate Majority Whip, by Aman Batheja


Federal officials auditing Dallas DA’s use of forfeiture funds, The Dallas Morning News

Houston senator proposes bill to slash property taxes, Austin American-Statesman

Councilman Diego Bernal to step down, San Antonio Express-News

Garcia: Endorsement dance in mayor's race could get awkward, San Antonio Express-News

Ted Cruz’s Greatest Weakness, Politico

Obama Plan May Allow Millions of Immigrants to Stay and Work in U.S., The New York Times

Perry, Dewhurst push to extend border surge before leaving office, Houston Chronicle

Houston oil field giants discuss merger, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"At the end of the day, we all do the state a disservice by making this vote something much bigger than it actually is. It's a freaking vote."

— State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, seeking to downplay the long-term significance of a speaker vote in January

Today in TribTalk

Melodrama, but little mystery, in Texas election results, by Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

News From Home

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Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Special TribLive Happy Hour Panel Discussion Assessing Rick Perry’s Legacy, on Nov. 18 on the patio at El Arroyo

•    A Conversation With Reps. Myra Crownover, Tan Parker and Ron Simmons on Dec. 1 at Texas Woman's University in Denton

•    A Conversation With Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Dec. 4 at The Austin Club

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Explore related story topics

Health care Politics David Dewhurst Greg Abbott Joe Straus John Cornyn Rick Perry Ted Cruz