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The Brief: Aug. 12, 2015

Some headlines on Tuesday spelled doom for former Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign, but the campaign says it's slimming down to keep him competitive in the early states.

Former Texas governor and presidential contender gives his stump speech in Windham, New Hampshire on July 4. 2015.

The Big Conversation

Some headlines on Tuesday spelled doom for former Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign, but the campaign says it's slimming down to keep him competitive in the early states.

Perry's campaign — struggling with low poll numbers and fundraising — ceased paying staff members last Friday, although almost all have stayed on as volunteers. The plan for now, says campaign manager Jeff Miller, is to focus on scoring media interviews and flying Perry into early states on commercial flights so he can continue meeting voters. The Washington Post's Philip Rucker has more on what's next for Perry:

"We absolutely know for a fact that the governor’s track record on the economy, on education, even on the climate far surpasses anyone else running for office," Miller said. "Just as importantly, no one matches Rick Perry’s retail politics skills. At the end of the day, it’s not the national poll numbers that will dictate who our nominee is. It’s who can perform well in these early states.” ...

Meanwhile, Perry's well-funded allied super PACs are expanding their operations to compensate for the campaign's shortcomings. The Opportunity and Freedom PACs, which has raised nearly $17 million and initially planned to focus on paid television advertisements, also are building a ground game in Iowa, where they recently hired a state director and deputy state director.

“We saw this coming," said Austin Barbour, senior adviser to the super PACs. "We knew we would have to do more than just paid media and there’s nothing in the playbook that says we can’t do that." ...

Miller acknowledged the difficulties of running a credible campaign with a money shortage, but said he finds solace in two examples from recent campaign cycles, [John McCain in 2008 and Newt Gingrich in 2012].

The Wall Street Journal writes Perry's situation reflects the blurring lines between campaigns and their affiliated super PACs, noting that Perry's efforts will be "an early test of the extent to which outside groups can step in on a campaign’s behalf without breaking federal rules."

But how did Perry's campaign get here, and what does he need to do to get donations flowing again? The Tribune's Abby Livingston talks to Texas strategists and donors to get their take.

Also in the Tribune, Patrick Svitek talks to U.S. Sen Ted Cruz about how his current campaign swing through the South is just part of a larger national campaign, in which he's asking for money, building grassroots efforts and announcing local leadership teams — something he says many of his rivals aren't doing.  

The Day Ahead

•      Gov. Greg Abbott gives the keynote speech at the Jefferson County GOP's Lincoln Reagan Dinner in Beaumont.

Trib Must-Reads

Analysis: A Contest That's Not on the Ballot, by Ross Ramsey — Less than a year after he first took office, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is defending himself against felony charges while a quiet procession of candidates comes under unofficial consideration to succeed him.

Video: Beauticians to Avoid Brush With the Law, by Alana Rocha — It’s a service that makes a bride’s big day less stressful. But getting hair and makeup done by a stylist on location is actually illegal in Texas. On Sept. 1, that changes. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.

UT System Sues Ken Paxton to Stop Records Release, by Ally Mutnick — The University of Texas System is suing Attorney General Ken Paxton over his office's ruling that the system must release certain records related to an admissions investigation of the University of Texas at Austin.

Families of Disabled Children Sue Texas Over Medicaid Cuts, by Edgar Walters — Relatives of children with disabilities are joining therapy providers in a lawsuit against the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, weeks before the agency is scheduled to slash payments to a therapy program for the poor.

Judge Ordered Children Out of Foster Care in 2013, by Terri Langford — Nearly two years before the murder of six Houston siblings, a state district judge denied a request by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to keep them in foster care, according to a memo sent to members of the Legislature on Tuesday.

Inmate Beard Policy Will Not Cost Taxpayers Extra, by Terri Langford — The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said last week that its new beard policy for inmates would cost taxpayers $500,000. Now, the agency says there will actually be no cost to taxpayers.


Ted Cruz: ‘Foolish’ for GOP to criticize Trump, Politico

Ted Cruz Gets a Boost in Mississippi From a Tea Party Stalwart, The New York Times

Campaign team sticks with Rick Perry without pay, Austin American-Statesman

State office to appeal pro-Perry ruling, San Antonio Express-News

Officer Brad Miller terminated from Arlington PD following Christian Taylor shooting, The Dallas Morning News

Texas horse industry official files complaint against senator, Houston Chronicle

For God’s sake, Texas to permit prison beards, The Dallas Morning News

The 2015 school ratings raised a few questions. Here are some answers, Houston Chronicle

School trustee Tomas Uresti in the race for Farias’ state house seat, San Antonio Express-News

EIA cuts 2016 oil price forecast as crude trades below 6-year low, Houston Chronicle

Dallas woman sues Uber after accusing driver of sexual assault, The Dallas Morning News

Whistleblower: Medicare Advantage Padded TX ChargesCenter for Public Integrity

Quote to Note

“History has shown that hasn’t happened in a long time, so it’s probably not a likely outcome. But anything is possible, and so any sensible campaign will prepare for every eventuality.”

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz to the Tribune's Patrick Svitek on whether the lengthy list of GOP candidates may lead to a brokered convention

News From Home

•      In this week's edition of the Trib+Water newsletter: Experts are still assessing the damage from the spill of mining effluents into the Animas River, a new study attempts to measure groundwater use in the Eagle Ford Shale and an interview with Jason M. Evans of Stetson University.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•      The Texas Tribune's Trivia Night on Aug. 30 in Austin 

•      A Conversation with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor on Sept. 4 in Austin

•      A Conversation on The Road from Hurricane Rita on Sept. 22 in Beaumont

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

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