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The Brief: July 7, 2015

State Democrats' "Texas Two-Step" method of allocating delegates to the presidential nominating convention is over after nearly 40 years, raising the importance of the state's primary for presidential candidates.

The Texas Democratic state convention on June 8, 2012

The Big Conversation

The nearly 40-year "Texas Two-Step" tradition at the Texas Democratic Party is over, with the Democratic National Committee asking the state party to pick between a caucus and a primary.

Unlike any other state in the country, Texas Democrats have had both for decades. That meant that on the primary election day, the state's Democrats allocated 75 percent of its delegates to the presidential nominating convention. And caucuses after the primary elections decided how the remaining "at large" delegates were allocated.

Texas Democrats tried to keep that system, but the DNC forced them to pick one, so they went with a primary. The Tribune's Ally Mutnik explains what that change means to both voters and presidential candidates:

Now that the about 250 delegates will be allocated on the same day, Texas will be the largest prize of all the Super Tuesday Democratic primary elections on March 1.

The two-step had garnered complaints, especially after the 2008 election. Barack Obama’s campaign informed voters of the caucus’ importance, so they turned out to support him. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but because of the primary/caucus hybrid, Obama won more presidential delegates and claimed victory in Texas, leading some to call the system undemocratic.

Trib Must-Reads

A Small Step in Baylor's Sexual Conduct Policy, by Matthew Watkins — It won't go down as a landmark achievement in gay rights, but a recent change in Baylor University's student sexual conduct policy has nonetheless heartened gays at the conservative Baptist school.

Google Testing Self-Driving Vehicles in Austin, by Aman Batheja — Over the past week, Google began testing one of its self-driving vehicle in Austin after years of experimenting with its groundbreaking autonomous vehicle technology almost exclusively in California.

TCU, UNT Teaming Up to Start Medical School, by Matthew Watkins — Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas Health Science Center have announced plans to jointly launch a new medical school in Fort Worth.

Democrats Want Task Force on Confederate Monuments, by Alexa Ura — Five Democratic lawmakers have asked Gov. Greg Abbott to form a task force to consider the appropriateness of Confederate monuments located on the Capitol grounds in Austin.

Cecil Bell Urges Resistance to Gay Marriage Ruling, by Ally Mutnick — State Rep. Cecil Bell didn't announce a speaker bid on Monday, instead focusing his much-hyped "major announcement" on a call for citizens and states to resist the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling.

Gay Couple Suing Hood County Gets Marriage License, by Alexa Ura — A Granbury gay couple on Monday obtained a marriage license from the Hood County Clerk's office after filing a lawsuit against the clerk in federal court.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a Fort Worth groundbreaking for a new Facebook Data Center at 11:30 a.m.

Elsewhere

Why Ted Cruz is defending Donald Trump, The Washington Post

Facebook likes Fort Worth for new data center in AllianceTexas, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Landmark court rulings can expose society’s fault lines, San Antonio Express-News

Paxton drops one fight over same-sex marriage ruling in Travis County, Austin American-Statesman

In tiny Irion County, county clerk issues a ‘declaration … of defense of natural marriage,’ The Dallas Morning News

As drought ebbs, water conservation efforts lose steam, Austin American-Statesman

With Corruption Rampant, Good Cops Go Bad In Texas' Rio Grande Valley, NPR

TxDOT reins in tuition assistance for employees, San Antonio Express-News

In no time at all, World Heritage missions draw visitors, San Antonio Express-News

Baylor emails reveal fractious ties to alumni group, The Associated Press

Quote to Note

"That’s not the conversation for this day."

— State Rep. Cecil Bell Jr., R-Magnolia, on whether he will run for speaker. Bell was rumored to announce a challenge against House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, in a "major announcement" on Monday.

News From Home

•    Differences in border security proposals sparked lots of debate during the 84th legislative session. Use our Texas Legislative Guide to see what lawmakers agreed upon, as well as other related issues that were debated this session.

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

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