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The Brief: Sept. 3, 2015

The Rick Perry presidential campaign absorbed another blow on Wednesday when word got out that the campaign had no staff left in New Hampshire, site of the first Republican primary contest.

Rick Perry campaigns at a meet and greet in Storm Lake, Iowa on August 17, 2015.

The Big Conversation

The financially beleaguered Rick Perry presidential campaign absorbed another blow on Wednesday when word got out that the campaign had no staff left in New Hampshire, site of the first Republican primary contest of the nominating season.

The Tribune's Patrick Svitek reported that Perry's political director in New Hampshire, Dante Vitagliano, left to join the campaign of Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Vitagliano released a statement saying "it has become clear that the path forward for Gov. Perry is not through New Hampshire."

Svitek added, "Vitagliano and (Mike) Dennehy are not the only Perry staffers in New Hampshire to exit recently. Ryder Selmi, who had been Perry's senior field manager in New Hampshire, left the former governor's campaign around Aug. 20. Word of Vitagliano's exit came a day after Perry's Iowa team announced it had scaled back to one paid staffer, Jamie Johnson, and a volunteer adviser, Robert Haus."

The Houston Chronicle's Kevin Diaz and Mike Ward reported that the staff shakeups in those early voting states have made South Carolina more important to Perry's plans. They write:

Erik Corcoran, a Perry field director in the Palmetto State, said Wednesday that a staff of five and a growing cadre of more than 100 volunteers is not losing heart, despite the furloughs.

"We've confirmed to them (Perry headquarters in Austin) that they hired the right people and we're in it for the right reasons," Corcoran said. "I'm not going to disparage anyone who has left, but it sends an enormously powerful message, especially to young people, that there is a team out there that's in it for the right reasons."

Trib Must-Reads

Texans to Have Starring Role in Congressional Showdowns, by Abby Livingston – When Congress reconvenes next week after its August recess, there are a couple of things you can count on: impassioned debate on domestic and foreign policy, and Texans having major parts in those debates.

University of Houston Pours Millions into Athletics, by Matthew Watkins – In recent years, the University of Houston has transferred more than $100 million from its academic side to athletics, aiming to shore up struggling athletic programs and enhance its bid to become a tier one university, and maybe a member of the Big 12.  

Walker Vows to 'Wreak Some Havoc' on Washington, by Patrick Svitek – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker launched a three-day swing through Texas on Wednesday, his first visit as a presidential candidate, with stops in Dallas and San Antonio where he fired up his anti-establishment rhetoric.  

Abortion Providers Ask SCOTUS to Review Restrictions, by Alexa Ura – Texas abortion providers on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their legal challenge to two provisions of the state's strict abortion law.    

Rep. McClendon Not Running for Re-election in 2016, by Madlin Mekelburg – State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, announced Wednesday she will not run for reelection in 2016.

Houston Argues for Right to Regulate Pollution, by Jordan Rudner – Arguing before the state Supreme Court Wednesday, Houston lawyers defended the city’s right to enforce statewide pollution regulations using fines and criminal charges when state environmental regulators aren't doing the job.

Texas Democrats Facing Fierce Debate on Iran Deal, by Abby Livingston – When Texas Democratic House members return to the nation's capital next week, they will be hit with a firestorm of a debate: the Iran deal. 

Cuellar: House Will Pass Bill Lifting Crude Export Ban, by Jim Malewitz – A Texas Democrat says he believes the U.S. House will pass legislation lifting the country’s 40-year-old ban on most crude oil exports — even amid a frenzy of activity in the upcoming session.  

Texas Racing Commission Funded for 90 Days, by Luqman Adeniyi  – Racetracks in Texas are able to resume operations Wednesday after state officials agreed to temporarily fund the Texas Racing Commission. But discussions continue over a long-term resolution for the commission. 

Perry Campaign Has No Staff in New Hampshire, by Patrick Svitek – Rick Perry's presidential campaign has lost its entire staff in New Hampshire, according to a former top adviser there to the former governor.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott will be in Houston to speak at the Houston Pachyderm Club's 20th Anniversary celebration.

•    U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz will be at the Fort Worth Stockyards for a presidential campaign rally, hosted by state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville. Cruz will also make stops in Tyler and Kingwood following his Fort Worth visit.

Elsewhere 

Ted Cruz’s measured defense of Kentucky clerk who won’t issue marriage licenses to gay couples, The Dallas Morning News

Lone Star Park, other horse and dog tracks back in business, The Dallas Morning News

PACs’ creative rule-bending, The Hill

Plea deal leaves Republic of Texas stalwart fighting charges aloneSan Antonio Express-News

Appeals court to hear election recall case brought by San Antonio and Houston churchesSan Antonio Express-News

New era of upgrades seen for AlamoSan Antonio Express-News

Judge cancels Ken Paxton contempt hearingAustin American-Statesman

Dan Patrick: Texans should call police ‘sir and ma’am,’ pay their mealsAustin American-Statesman

Low-Income Workers See Biggest Drop in Paychecks, The New York Times

Texas counties turn to voting centers to boost turnout, Houston Chronicle

Court strips lesser prairie chicken of federal protection, The Associated Press

Quote to Note

“I think he’s going to have to get out of the race, but the idea of saving his dignity, that horse is out of the barn.” 

– Cal Jillson, a Southern Methodist University political scientist on Rick Perry's presidential campaign.

Today in TribTalk

Welcome home, Senator Cruz, by state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer — On his trip to Texas this week, Ted Cruz will avoid Texas’ biggest cities — and by and large, its fast-growing Latino population.

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    The Ticket: A Live Recording and GOP Primary Debate Watch Party on Sept. 16 in Austin

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

•    A Conversation on God & Governing on Oct. 7 in Austin

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

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