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The Brief: Aug. 13, 2015

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's recent campaign stops through the South have made it clear he has a new punching bag in speeches: Jeb Bush.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks Tuesday in Olive Branch, Mississippi. The 2016 presidential candidate was visiting the a…

The Big Conversation

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has a new punching bag at campaign stops: Jeb Bush.

Cruz, who wraps up his bus tour through the South today, has become increasingly critical of the former Florida governor "as a prime example of what's ailing the GOP," and his crowds are liking that message, reports the Tribune's Patrick Svitek:

During campaign stops Monday and Tuesday in Tennessee and Mississippi, Cruz's references to the former Florida governor, now a staple of the senator's stump speech, often elicited loud booing, sometimes accompanied by scattered shouts of "Establishment!" or "RINO!" (Republican In Name Only). ...

"We're tired of losing," Cruz said Tuesday when asked why he thought Bush's name was drawing such strong reactions on the campaign trail. ...

In an interview aboard his campaign bus Tuesday in Mississippi, Cruz praised Bush's "candor" in a seemingly backhanded compliment.

"He has been quite candid in embracing amnesty, in embracing Common Core," Cruz said. "Now those policy positions are dramatically out of step with Republican primary voters, but I have commended his courage of convictions that he sticks with his defense of amnesty and his defense of Common Core.”

Cruz also chatted with Politico about how his campaign is trying to "invest early in March primary states," the Southern states where he says his "record as a consistent conservative is resonating powerfully."

The New York Times, meanwhile, picks up a "new addition to [his] stump speech" on immigration, after he's been "overshadowed" on the issue by Donald Trump's comments.

And Politico has a story on how former Gov. Rick Perry isn't the only candidate facing fundraising troubles, although 2016 is proving to be a different cycle due to super PACs that "become a bridge to viability, sustaining struggling candidates." 

Trib Must-Reads

After 17 Years, Texas Poised to Resolve Oil Spill, by Jim Malewitz — In the time it has taken the state and federal governments to hold a Koch Industries affiliate responsible for a South Texas oil spill, 17 different quarterbacks started games for the Dallas Cowboys, including the team’s current head coach.

Analysis: More Money, More Democracy, by Ross Ramsey — His campaign is out of money, but former Gov. Rick Perry doesn't have to drop his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Campaign finance laws don't work that way anymore.

Judge: State Never Proved 6 Houston Children Were Endangered, by Edgar Walters — A state district judge who denied a request to keep six siblings — recently murdered in Houston — in foster care says he wasn’t provided enough evidence two years ago to keep the children removed from their family.

Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller Goes to China, by Ally Mutnick — After eight months of defending deep fryers and championing cupcakes, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is taking his agricultural prowess abroad.

Abbott to Texans: Try to Use Less Power, by Jim Malewitz — Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday made this appeal to Texans: Curb your electricity use, if you can – for the grid’s sake.

State Attorney Set to Appeal Decision That Favored Perry, by Patrick Svitek — The Office of the State Prosecuting Attorney is planning to get involved in the pending indictment against former Gov. Rick Perry on abuse-of-power charges.

Judge Gives Texas Deadline on Same-Sex Marriage Policies, by Alexa Ura — A federal judge has given the state an Aug. 24 deadline to recognize same-sex marriages on death and birth certificates.

Deregulated Electricity a Mixed Bag for Consumers, by Jim Malewitz — More than a decade after the power market was deregulated for 85 percent of the state, some Texans are finding better deals on electricity. But most have paid thousands more than customers still served by monopoly utilities, a new report says.

Today's 31 Days, 31 Ways Story

Texas to Hold Districts Accountable for Failing Schools, by Sophia Bollag and Mallory Busch — If school district leaders can’t fix failing schools, the state may strip their authority under a new law effective Sept. 1.

Elsewhere

Cruz enlists help of religious objections law's sponsor, The Associated Press

Rick Perry's Loss Is Ted Cruz's Gain, NPR

DPS racks up hundreds of thousands in OT security costs, San Antonio Express-News

More than 20% in Texas still lack health coverage, Houston Chronicle

Texas Officer Who Killed Unarmed Man Made Mistakes, Police Experts Say, The New York Times

Speakers at Arlington vigil call for racial calm, say Christian Taylor shooting has hit two families, The Dallas Morning News

HERO supporters launch 'Houston Unites' campaign, Houston Chronicle

Arlington, open carry advocates happy with ruling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Council expected to pass Lyft deal, but Uber looking iffy, San Antonio Express-News

Hate graffiti defaces Jewish neighborhood, San Antonio Express-News

City Council adds term limits to busy November ballot, Houston Chronicle

Law school graduates sue A&M over alumni status, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"There’s no way he’d walk away from that. We’ve got all of this money, the super PAC can go do all of these operational things a typical campaign would do. His staff, his organization, can be lean and mean. Why would you walk away from that?"

Austin Barbour, senior adviser to the super PACs backing former Gov. Rick Perry, on Perry's political retail skills and why they're convinced he'll perform well in Iowa

Today in TribTalk

The Supreme Court must preserve voter equality, by Ilya Shapiro and Thomas Berry — No matter where you live in your state, your vote should have the same weight. It's time for the Supreme Court to make that official.

News From Home

•      On this week's TribCast, Emily Ramshaw talks with Evan Smith, Ross Ramsey and Abby Livingston about Rick Perry's presidential money struggles, his GOP debate performance and security questions at the state Capitol.

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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