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The Brief: Feb. 23, 2015

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are the co-favorites among Texas Republicans to take their party's nomination for president, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the Iowa Freedom Summit at the Hoyt Sherman Place theater in Des Moines, Iowa on Sat...

The Big Conversation

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are the co-favorites among Texas Republicans to take their party's nomination for president, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

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Cruz was named by 20 percent while Walker was named by 19 percent. Following behind were former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson who were each preferred by 9 percent while former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was favored by 8 percent.

The big news here is the strong move by Walker, who polled 2 percent in an October survey. At the time, Cruz had a commanding lead on the field, preferred by 27 percent.

“Scott Walker is clearly breathing some of the oxygen on the right. The big takeaway here is that Ted Cruz is still a giant among Texas Republicans — but he is not invulnerable,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin. “Conservatives are willing to look at another candidate who fits that profile.”

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Cruz was above water with his favorable/unfavorable rating, the poll found. He was viewed favorably by about two in five, unfavorably by 36 percent.

Perry, meanwhile, was nearly evenly split on admirers and detractors. He was viewed favorably by 31 percent, but unfavorably by 30 percent. The poll, though, picked up something else of interest, said Daron Shaw, a professor of government at UT-Austin who co-directs the poll.

The number of people with neutral impressions of the governor or who say they have no opinion has risen sharply. Shaw said that’s because he’s no longer the governor.

“What we see here is what happens when somebody leaves office,” Shaw said. The intensity has fallen off, too, with 10 percent saying they have favorable impressions of the former governor and 16 percent saying they have unfavorable ones.

“The ‘verys’ have sheathed their swords on Perry,” Shaw said.

Disclosure: UT-Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

The Day Ahead

•    The House and Senate convene at 2 p.m.

•    House Appropriations budget subcommittees meet beginning at 7:30 a.m. — Article III (E2.010), Articles VI, VII & VIII (JHR 100) — at 9:30 a.m. — Article II (JHR 131) — and at 10 a.m. — Articles I, IV & V (E1.018). House Energy Resources and Natural Resources Committee meets jointly on adjournment to talk water use and the reuse of water in oil and gas production (E1.030). House Human Services meets on adjournment to take testimony from the Health and Human Services Commission and Sunset Advisory Commission (E2.030).

•    Senate Finance meets at 11 a.m. On the agenda are public safety and criminal justice agencies, including the Department of Public Safety and Department of Criminal Justice (E1.036). Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs meets at 1 p.m. to receive updates from Texas Department of Agriculture, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, among others (E1.012).

Trib Must-Reads

Judge Urges Lawmakers to Fix School Finance, by Eva Hershaw

Video: Abbott Takes Immigration Message to D.C., by Jim Malewitz

Perry's Embrace of Tax Subsidies Could Haunt '16 Bid, by Jay Root

Battleground Texas Optimistic as It Licks Its Wounds, by Jim Malewitz

State Program Favoring Disabled Workers Stirs Debate, by Aman Batheja

Elsewhere

Once booming, now fading in the Eagle Ford Shale, San Antonio Express-News

Campus carry would cost Texas colleges millions, Houston Chronicle

Texas tax holidays proposed for guns and ammo, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Legislators poised to make changes in juvenile justice system, The Dallas Morning News

Talk of move raises alarm at Texas School for the Deaf, Austin American-Statesman

Scott Walker feeling the heat, Politico

Feds regain control of Willacy prison, The Monitor

Political spending spikes ahead of Texas liquor law debate, Austin American-Statesman

Fort Worth workers’ comp a system of ‘red tape’, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Bush Spouse Backs Jeb, but Is Wary of Family Business, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“I read a lot and I would like a tax-free holiday for books. Why don’t we just have a tax-free day and give everyone a break?”

— Marsha McCartney, president of the Texas chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, arguing against lawmakers' efforts to create a sales tax holiday for firearms and hunting supplies

News From Home

As we follow bills on immigration and border-related issues during the 84th legislative session, we'll keep you updated on legislation addressing border security operations. Stay caught up on the session with our Texas Legislative Guide.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Immigration: The Next Five Years on Feb. 27 at at the University of Texas at Brownsville

•    A Conversation With State Sen. Kel Seliger and State Rep. John Zerwas on March 5 at the Austin Club

•    Meet the Mayors: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on March 12 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With UT-Austin Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston on March 26 at The Austin Club

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