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The Brief: Oct. 12, 2015

A new poll ahead of next month's mayoral election in Houston continues to have state Rep. Sylvester Turner comfortably at the front of the pack, but the second spot in an expected runoff appears up for grabs.

Longtime State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, at TTEvents on April 30, 2015.

The Big Conversation

A new poll ahead of next month's mayoral election in Houston continues to have state Rep. Sylvester Turner comfortably at the front of the pack, but the second spot in an expected runoff appears up for grabs.

According to a report from KHOU-TV, one of the media outlets conducting the poll, businessman Bill King, who has rounded up endorsements from conservative and business organizations, is now tied with former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

Garcia and King each registered 9 percent with Turner at 19 percent support. Former Congressman Chris Bell had 6 percent support while Steve Costello and Ben Hall trailed with 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively. The KHOU report noted, though, that voters still might not be paying attention despite the closeness of the election. A total of 42 percent of the respondents were still undecided.

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle's Rebecca Elliott wrote about the potential challenge facing Turner should he qualify for the mayoral runoff as is expected by many.

She writes:

Turner, an African-American, will need to broaden his coalition beyond black voters - a challenge in a city where voting patterns often fall along racial lines. ...

The mayor's office at 901 Bagby twice has eluded Turner, who sought the position in 1991, losing to Bob Lanier by more than 6 percentage points, and again in 2003, when he failed to make a runoff against Bill White.

Both times, Turner walked away with the vast majority of African-American support - about 98 percent in the 1991 runoff and about 78 percent in the 2003 general, Murray said. Yet he struggled to make inroads with white and Hispanic voters, despite faring well with Anglos in the 1991 general, Murray said.

Trib Must Reads

With Growing Focus on Iowa, Cruz Plans Blitz, by Patrick Svitek – Ted Cruz is preparing for an aggressive schedule of events in Iowa as his presidential campaign increases its overall focus on the first early-voting state. 

Analysis: Patrick Makes Sure An Old Bill Comes Due, by Ross Ramsey – Legislation that would have blocked public employees from paying union or association dues with paycheck deductions failed last session. But the Senate is reopening the issue, and it could play against a powerful House chairman up for reelection next year.

Video: Ivy Taylor Talks "Bridging the Digital Divide", by Abby Livingston – At The Washington Post's "Bridging the Digital Divide" event, San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor and Abby Livingston, D.C. bureau chief for The Texas Tribune, discuss how critical digital literacy is to the economic growth of cities.   

Julián Castro Returning Home to Endorse Clinton, by Patrick Svitek – Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro will be back in his hometown next week to formally endorse Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. 

Death Row Inmate Claims Witnesses Coerced, by Johnathan Silver – Attorneys for East Texas inmate Julius Jerome Murphy, scheduled for execution in early November for killing a stranded motorist, claimed in court papers filed Friday that prosecutors threatened and coerced witnesses to unjustly convict him.

House Backs Repeal of Crude Oil Export Ban, by Abby Livingston – A bipartisan team of Texans rounded up an overwhelming majority of U.S. House votes on Friday to back a bill repealing the nation's long-standing ban on exporting domestic crude oil to the international market. But the final House tally wouldn't be enough to overcome a threatened presidential veto.

As Many Push for a Speaker Ryan, Texans Keep Close Watch, by Abby Livingston – The Texas Republican U.S. House delegation is in a holding pattern until U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin decides whether to run for speaker. 

Patrick Urges Senators to Study Jail and Police Safety, by Aman Batheja – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick added police safety and jail safety issues, as well as sanctuary cities and veteran benefits to the Senate's to-do list Friday ahead of the next scheduled legislative session in 2017.

Judge Gives Go-Ahead for Hearing in Wallace Hall Suit, by Jordan Rudner and Matthew Watkins – After weeks of legal filings and procedural moves on both sides, a judge has given the go-ahead for a hearing in the lawsuit between University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven and Regent Wallace Hall.   

To Paxton's Cheers, Court Blocks EPA Clean Water Rule, by Jim Malewitz and Kiah Collier – A federal appeals court has blocked a major Obama administration clean water rule, handing a victory to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other states trying to drown it in court.  

State Supreme Court Will Review Tax on "Small Tobacco", by Jordan Rudner – The Texas Supreme Court agreed Friday morning to review a state tax on small cigarette manufacturers, known collectively as "Small Tobacco."

Cruz: Trump Will Not Win Republican Nomination, by Patrick Svitek – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is saying he does not believe Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump will win the GOP nomination, an unusually candid assessment of a rival he has sought to portray as a close ally.   

The Day Ahead

•     U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is speaking in Austin to discuss Travis County’s mental health screening and jail diversion programs. At 10 a.m., Travis County officials will join him at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center for a roundtable discussion with a press conference afterward. 

•     GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum heads to the Fort Worth Club to share his new plan for tax reform at 11:30 a.m. in an address to the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Elsewhere

As Paul Stalls, Cruz Seeks Libertarian Support, The Washington Post

Ted Cruz raises another $12 million, enough for ‘the long haul’, Austin American-Statesman

Former Gov. Perry’s criminal case could leave a legacySan Antonio Express-News

Fikac: Religion is a refuge and smart politicsSan Antonio Express-News

Complaints start to trickle in over local governments’ ‘no guns’ signs, The Dallas Morning News

Alamo Plaza purchase stirs old dilemma, San Antonio Express-News

Party line divides hopefuls in Texas House District 118, San Antonio Express-News

County says partial settlement reached in West, Texas blast, The Associated Press 

Veteran's broken tooth leads to federal court, Houston Chronicle

No Jail Time Is Being Sought for Bowe Bergdahl, Lawyer Says, The New York Times

Texas doctors, insurers taking 'balance billing' fight public, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"I need this proliferation of dildos to offer people a visual representation of what it would be like if we all carried guns. It should look ridiculous to you. That is the point. This is America. If guns and bloodshed don't wake people up, a public celebration of sexuality may just do the trick."

— Jessica Jin, a UT-Austin grad who created the #CocksNotGlocks event, which has since gone viral. The event is meant to protest campus carry. 

Today in TribTalk

You can't take God out of governing, by Matt Krause – I get concerned when I hear lawmakers say that they can separate their personal beliefs from their work in the Legislature. And I have yet to see even one of my colleagues accomplish this feat.

Why I'm voting for Carly Fiorina (and you should too), by Susan Combs — When curtains collapsed on Carly Fiorina last week, I was struck by her first reaction: She asked if everyone was OK. It was further proof of her concern for others and her steadiness in the midst of crisis.

News From Home

•    As part of our "God & Governing" documentary series, we've collected short video clips of two-dozen Texas lawmakers explaining how their personal religious beliefs drive their policymaking in the state Capitol. Take a look.

•    Our Fall Member Drive is underway, and we’re counting on you to help us reach our $100,000 goal and directly fund our 2016 initiatives of more investigations and reaching even more Texans. Chip-in or become a member today!

•    The fifth-annual Texas Tribune Festival is just FOUR days away! Join us at texastribune.org/festival

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A taping of KLRU's Overheard with Evan Smith featuring Ambassador Ron Kirk on Oct. 14 in Austin

•    A Conversation with Political Commentator Paul Begala on Oct. 15 in Austin

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

•    The Texas Tribune Trivia Night on Oct. 18 in Austin

•    A Conversation with Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht on Oct. 29 in Austin

•    A daylong higher education symposium on Nov. 16 at Baylor University in Waco

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