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The Brief: Dec. 9, 2014

The New York Times is reporting on efforts by GOP big donors and fundraisers "to clear the field" so that a single establishment candidate can compete for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Jeb Bush leaves the Senate Education Committee after making a presentation on Florida education on Feb. 27, 2013.

The Big Conversation

The New York Times is reporting on efforts by GOP big donors and fundraisers "to clear the field" so that a single establishment candidate can compete for the 2016 presidential nomination. The three men being mentioned as most likely to be tapped are Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Mitt Romney.

According to the Times: "All three are believed to be capable of raising the roughly $80 million in candidate and 'super PAC' money that many Republican strategists and donors now believe will be required to win their party’s nomination. ... 'If you are philosophically a center-right donor, I think you have an interest in clearing the field,' said Bobbie Kilberg, a top Republican fund-raiser in Virginia with ties to Mr. Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, and the Bush family."

Where does this leave Rick Perry, whose run for the nomination would rest on support from the GOP's right wing? Per the Times, "Mr. Perry’s ability to continue tapping into the deep well of wealthy Texas donors would be tested by Mr. Bush’s entry into the race. Mr. Perry may also find it harder to raise money when he leaves behind the Texas governor’s office — and the thousands of political appointments it controls around the state — in January."

Meanwhile, Politico has a report on a Monday meeting by Republicans to coordinate technology pushes to advance get-out-the-vote efforts in 2016. "The all-day meeting attracted about 40 of the right’s biggest names in tech and strategy – including Koch operatives Michael Palmer and Marc Short, leading strategists from many of the major super PACs and all of the party committees, as well as close allies of Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and Scott Walker."

The impetus for the meeting, according to the Politico piece, was to make sure the technology gap between the Obama and Romney campaigns in 2012 isn't repeated. "Monday’s gathering drew close allies of many of the GOP’s top 2016 prospects including Keith Gilkes (who has worked for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker), Rob Johnson (Texas Gov. Rick Perry), Mike Murphy (former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush) and Josh Perry (Texas Sen. Ted Cruz) ... 'It was a who’s who of representatives of Republican groups and candidates,' said one operative who attended."

The Day Ahead

•    The Senate State Affairs Committee meets at 10 a.m. in the Betty King Committee Room at the Texas Capitol to discuss the teacher and state employee retirement systems. (agenda)

•    Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith leads a panel discussion on the transformation of medical education in Texas at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio. We will livestream the noon event for those unable to attend in person.

Trib Must-Reads

Panetti Doesn't Need Mental Health Treatment, Prison Doctor Says, by Terri Langford

Abbott Plans to Add $4 Billion to Road Funding, by Aman Batheja

Turner and Beck Throw Barbs at Straus, by Aman Batheja

Abbott Says Education Will Be Top Policy Priority, by Reeve Hamilton


Is defacing the U.S. flag unconstitutional? A Texas court will decide, Austin American-Statesman

Abbott pledges to focus on education, not hot-button issues, Houston Chronicle

Oil price hits keep coming, Houston Chronicle

Bill inspired by Austin’s Andrea Sloan would clarify ‘compassionate use’, Austin American-Statesman

Interactive map predicts flooding risks for Coastal Bend amid climate change, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Inside the Koch data mine, Politico

The Special Powers of Super PACS, and Not Just for Federal Elections, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“Anything else and you’re on the B team. You’re on the second list. People that like to do this want to be on the A team.”

— An anonymous GOP fundraiser to The New York Times on the consequences for big donors of saying anything but yes to Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney or Chris Christie should he ask for a commitment to a 2016 presidential bid

Today in TribTalk

Why water is not the new oil, by Sharlene Leurig

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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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Explore related story topics

Politics Greg Abbott Joe Straus Rick Perry Ted Cruz