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The Brief: Dec. 2, 2014

A Ted Cruz for president Super PAC is up and running, while others doubt his ability to win over his party's big donors.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on the Republican stage election night Nov. 4, 2014.

The Big Conversation

A story by The Dallas Morning News' Todd Gillman on potential fundraising challenges facing Ted Cruz in mounting a successful presidential run has some interesting information on the Super PAC established to coax him into running:

Last month, Cruz’s roommate and debate partner from Princeton, David Panton, created a super PAC that can raise and spend unlimited sums to support a candidate. The group is called Stand for Principle.

“I would like him to run for president,” Panton said. “We need strong, moral principles and conservative leadership in America that I think Ted offers.” ... Maria Zack, an Atlanta-based GOP operative who served as a top aide in Newt Gingrich’s 2012 campaign, chairs the super PAC. Her goal is to raise $50 million by March 2016. The finance committee held its first conference call a week before Thanksgiving.

Gillman writes that Cruz faces headwinds when trying to win over his party's major donors and bundlers, many of whom are waiting to see which way former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush falls on a presidential run.

Ray Washburne, a Dallas developer and national finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, told Gillman, “You don’t want to be the first mover to Ted Cruz or Rand Paul if Jeb ends up running. Everyone wants to get behind whoever they think is going to win.”

The Day Ahead

•    Gov.-elect Greg Abbott campaigns with Senate District 18 special election candidate Lois Kolkhorst in Sugar Land.

Trib Must-Reads

Mental Health Initiative for Veterans to Take Next Step, by Alana Rocha

Lower Speed Limits Coming in Drilling Areas, by Aman Batheja

Fracking a "Nuisance," Denton Tells Court, by Jim Malewitz

Betty King, Longtime Secretary of Texas Senate, Dies, by Ross Ramsey

Panetti Fate in Hands of Perry, Appeals Courts, by Terri Langford

Lawmakers Approve $86 Million for Border Surge, by Aman Batheja

Texas Leaders Adopt Spending Cap for Next Budget, by Aman Batheja

Elsewhere

Conservatives to Perry: Commute sentence of mentally ill death row inmate, The Hill

Oil tumbles below $65 as OPEC seen failing to slow shale, Houston Chronicle

Texas should continue the state lottery, lawmakers recommend, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Suit asks that dentists not diagnose sleep disorders, Austin American-Statesman

Asbestos remains legal despite fatal illnesses linked to it, San Antonio Express-News

‘Treasure-trove’ of evidence promised in Kaufman killings, The Dallas Morning News

Not your average carpet replacement under the pink dome, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

“We were very clear with the campaign workers on how to properly engage voters. But what they did wasn’t under my control. You can’t babysit them. People are going to do stupid things.”

— Former Donna school board member Michael Flores, one of four candidates elected together in 2012, after a campaign manager who worked for them pleaded guilty on Monday to his part in a vote-buying scheme that included handing out cocaine and cash for votes

Today in TribTalk

Reopen Barnett Shale water probe, by Rob Jackson

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    The Texas Tribune Festival presents a one-day symposium previewing the 84th Legislature on Dec. 5 at the Austin Community College Highland Campus in Austin

•    A Panel Discussion on the Transformation of Medical Education in Texas, on Dec. 9 at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio.

•    Meet the New Guys: A Conversation With Incoming Members of the Texas Senate on Dec. 11 at The Austin Club

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