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The Brief: Dec. 5, 2014

Voters in Senate District 18 go to the polls on Saturday to choose who will serve out the remainder of the term of Glenn Hegar, the state's next comptroller.

State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, explains Medicaid reimbursements on the House floor on April 4, 2013.

The Big Conversation

Voters in Senate District 18 go to the polls on Saturday to choose who will serve out the remainder of the term of Glenn Hegar, the state's next comptroller.

The biggest question is whether state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, can convert a series of high-profile endorsements from the likes of Gov. Rick Perry and Gov.-elect Greg Abbott into a win in the first round. Four other candidates are trying to make sure there's a runoff. The focus is on the other two Republicans in the race, the Ron Paul-endorsed Gary Gates, who has already spent $1.7 million on his campaign, and Richmond attorney Charles Gregory, who is also making his appeal to Tea Party voters.

As such, the tone of the campaign has grown increasingly personal as the candidates discuss things like Texas' law allowing in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. For instance, KRIV-TV reported on Thursday that "Kolkhorst told Katy Republicans she'll be leading the charge to eliminate in-state college tuition for the undocumented — a mission personally pre-assigned her by incoming Lt. Governor Dan Patrick."

Gates responded by telling the TV station, "My opponent voted for in-state tuition 14 years ago and while she might be hesitant about it today, the thing is leadership. Look, if you voted for it then, take ownership of it." That spurred this rebuttal from Kolkhorst: "I am not for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants or free tuition for illegal immigrants. That is completely false."

The Day Ahead

•    The Texas Tribune presents a one-day symposium previewing the 84th Legislature at the Austin Community College Highland Campus. Topics include, among others, the relationship between the House and Senate, what the Tea Party wants and the coming battle over the state budget. For those unable to attend in person, we will livestream the daylong event.

•    State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, chairman of the House select committee on the fiscal impact of the state's border security operations, holds a 10 a.m. press conference in the state Capitol to call on the federal government to reimburse Texas for the costs associated with an unsecured border.

Trib Must-Reads

Tighter Spending Cap May Keep Billions Out of Budget, by Aman Batheja

Historic Governor's Mansion Tweaked for Abbott, by Christine Ayala

Analysis: After the Elections, Fundraising Quickens, by Ross Ramsey

Ebola Task Force's Report Includes Call for New Facility, by Reeve Hamilton

New Texas House Rules: Press Must Affirm They Do Not Lobby, by John Reynolds

Elsewhere

Ex-Kaufman County JP guilty of capital murder in killing of DA’s wife, The Dallas Morning News

National environmental groups want to join Denton fracking fight, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

DPS chief: No terrorist has crossed the Texas-Mexico border, Austin American-Statesman

DPS to add 4,000 cameras along border with surge money, San Antonio Express-News

Eagle Ford Shale passes the 1 billion-barrel mark, San Antonio Express-News

Why is SpaceX hiring a farmer for its Texas test site?, Pasadena Star-News

Islands of the Oil Kings: Part 1, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

"I get nobody talking about him at all now, whereas four months ago, everybody was talking about him. ... You're the governor of freaking Texas. You better be like Jerry Jones in the Governor's Mansion."

— Iowa radio host Steve Deace, suggesting that Gov. Rick Perry's time has already come and gone in the Hawkeye State

Today in TribTalk

Why the speaker's race needs a dose of realism, by Craig Goldman

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep.-elect Will Hurd on Dec. 18 in Austin

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