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The Brief: June 15, 2015

Leticia Van de Putte's loss in Saturday's mayoral election was in part due to low turnout from Democratic voters, but observers say it was also because Ivy Taylor was able to get a more conservative coalition energized about the race.

Ivy Taylor (left) was elected mayor of San Antonio on Saturday after defeating former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in a historic runoff election.

The Big Conversation

Democrats took a big hit Saturday in San Antonio's mayoral race, with a coalition of conservative and crossover voters narrowly defeating former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte.

The victor in the officially nonpartisan race was Ivy Taylor, the city's interim mayor, who told her supporters that they had "defeated a political machine." Taylor won the runoff election with 51.7 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results, and became the city's first elected black mayor.

The Tribune's Patrick Svitek breaks down how Taylor won the race:

“At the end of the day, we needed 3,000 Democrats to get off their asses and go vote, and they didn’t," said Colin Strother, a Democratic consultant who had worked for the fourth-place finisher in the first round of the race, former Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson. "And that’s the story of our life in Texas politics — is that Democrats could elect anyone they wanted to any position — statewide, local, you name it — if they would get off the couch and go vote, and they don’t do it.”

But it was not just lower-than-expected turnout that hurt Van de Putte, according to her backers. She was up against a woman who had galvanized the city's social conservatives through her opposition to a nondiscrimination ordinance in 2013, and the city's fiscal conservatives through her decision to effectively kill a plan to build a streetcar system downtown.

Led by Justin Hollis — the GOP strategist who engineered Will Hurd's successful challenge last year to U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine — Taylor's team insists her coalition was broader than one ideology or party. But it was Republicans who were the most energized Sunday, claiming a renewed ally in the seventh largest city in the country — and a key gateway to politically ascendant South Texas. 

Saturday's results represent a second tough loss for Van de Putte, who got trounced in November's race against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and it's "hard to see where she goes from here," writes San Antonio Express-News columnist Gilbert Garcia.

Taylor, meanwhile, will return to the mayor's office no longer on an interim basis. But she'll have to "lead a fractured City Council through a difficult budget process and stalled public-safety contract negotiations," report the Express-News' Josh Baugh and John W. Gonzales.

Trib Must-Reads

Eltife Not Running for Re-election in 2016, by Patrick Svitek and Ross Ramsey — State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, has reportedly decided not to run for re-election in 2016, bringing to a close more than two decades in public service and setting off a potentially crowded GOP primary to replace him.

Decades After Racial Strife, Returning to Texas A&M, by Matthew Watkins — Forty-five years ago, Bill Mahomes endured suspicion and scorn as the first black student to graduate from Texas A&M University's Corps of Cadets. Now, he helps run the school.

Failed Attempt to Rebuke Lawmakers Riles Texas GOP, by Patrick Svitek — The Texas GOP has abandoned an effort to issue an official statement on the 84th legislative session, divided over a proposed resolution that would have accused individual lawmakers of standing in the way of gun rights legislation. 

At Shooting Range, Abbott Signs "Open Carry" Bill, by Julián Aguilar — In a bill-signing ceremony at a popular Central Texas gun store, Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday praised pro-gun groups and lawmakers for helping Texas ensure that the Second Amendment is alive and well in the Lone Star State.

Why Are So Few Texas Women in Congress?, by Abby Livingston — Texas has just three women in its 38-member congressional delegation, and hasn't sent a new long-term congresswoman to Washington in almost 20 years. Many in both parties wonder why the state's once-promising fount of woman candidates is running dry.

Regulators: No Evidence Wells Caused 4.0 Quake, by Jim Malewitz — After wrapping up a round of testing, Texas regulators say they have found no evidence that injecting oilfield waste into five disposal wells triggered the largest recorded earthquake in North Texas’ history.

In Houston, Castro Avoids Veep Chatter, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro on Friday declined to wade into the growing speculation that he is on Hillary Clinton's shortlist for a running mate.

Texas Democrats Help Defeat Obama's Legacy Bill, by Abby Livingston — The U.S. House on Friday shot down President Obama's bid to negotiate the largest trade deal in American history. The people taking knives to his agenda were in his own party, including most of Texas' Democratic delegation. 

Prosecutor Disbarred for Wrongful Death Row Conviction, by Terri LangfordThe former prosecutor who won a wrongful conviction of Anthony Graves for capital murder, sending him to Texas death row where he was nearly executed twice, has been disbarred.

The Day Ahead

•   Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to announce his presidential campaign in Miami. He released his "Making a Difference" video this weekend ahead of the announcement.


Man angry over custody case shoots up DPD headquarters, then is killed after chase, standoff, The Dallas Morning News

Father of gunman wonders if police could have spared son's life, The Dallas Morning News

Hope and Despair as Families Languish in Texas Immigration Centers, The New York Times

High rate of Hispanic DUIs roils families, officials, Houston Chronicle

Here’s what to expect at Jeb Bush’s Monday announcement, The Washington Post

Supreme Court decision awaited on UT admissions case, Austin American-Statesman

More Texas elementary classes exceeding size limit, The Dallas Morning News

Foster care deaths prompt legislative changes, San Antonio Express-News

Texas planners look to aquifers to prepare for next drought, Austin American-Statesman

As VA cuts narcotic prescriptions, veterans with chronic pain cry foul, Austin American-Statesman

Health coverage of 1 million Texans riding on Supreme Court ruling on health law subsidies, The Dallas Morning News

Lawmakers take control of ‘rogue’ Texas Racing Commission, San Antonio Express-News

Law change has Texas fans on the move with their adult beverages in tow, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"It just is puzzling."

— U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, to the Tribune's Abby Livingston about why there are so few women in Texas' congressional delegation

News From Home

The Tribune is unveiling a new tool for readers, Faces of Death Row, to add transparency to the state's capital punishment system. It profiles all 261 inmates facing execution, summarizes their crimes and allows filtering by race, age, sex and years spent on death row.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation About Texas Monthly's Best and Worst Legislators 2015 on June 18 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation About Health Care and the 84th Legislature on June 24 at UT Health Science Center San Antonio

•    A Conversation About Houston and the 84th Legislature on June 29 at George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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