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The Brief: Oct. 13, 2015

Bryan Republican Congressman Bill Flores edged closer on Monday to a run for Speaker of the House, telling the Tribune that he would run if 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan opts not to seek the office.

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The Big Conversation

Bryan Republican Congressman Bill Flores edged closer on Monday to a run for Speaker of the House, telling the Tribune that he would run if 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan opts not to seek the office.

As reported by Tribune D.C. bureau chief Abby Livingston, Flores told the Tribune that Ryan indicated to him that he was leaning against running. “I don’t want to share private conversations, but he was still a 'no' as of yesterday when I spoke to him,” Flores said.

Should Flores decide to run, Livingston notes, he begins from the advantageous position of serving as the head of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative House Republicans. But, as Livingston reports, he's not the only Texan evaluating a run.

Midland Republican Mike Conaway and Austin Republican Michael McCaul are both looking at possible candidacies, Livingston writes.

A candidate with the Texas congressional delegation united behind him would have an advantage because it is the single largest bloc of Republicans from any state. One Texas House Republican, though, can be definitively crossed off the list. Per a tweet, Clarendon Republican Mac Thornberry memorably ruled out a run.

"I'd rather be a vegetarian," he said.

Trib Must Reads

Texas' First Historical Marker in Chinese Honors Veteran, by Luqman Adeniyi – Fifty-seven years after his death, Lt. General Claire Lee Chennault, who oversaw the "Flying Tigers," will be honored at his Commerce birthplace with Texas' first state historical marker in Mandarin Chinese.

Texas Mulls Who Profits From Medicaid, by Edgar Walters – A recent high-profile battle over funding therapy services for poor and disabled kids has been cast as budget-ax-wielding lawmakers against suffering children. But there's plenty at stake for some for-profit companies as well. 

Austin Leaders Blast State Leaders Over Immigration, by Jay Root – Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, wading into the volatile debate over immigration, blasted state Republican leaders for blocking an executive order that would allow millions of undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation.

Texas Appeals Court Stays Julius Murphy Execution, by Johnathan Silver – East Texas inmate Julius Murphy's execution is off the November calendar – for now. The Texas Criminal Court of Appeals on Monday stayed the 36-year-old's execution, after his legal team presented claims of prosecutorial misconduct in his 1998 capital murder trial. 

In Volkswagen Challenge, Paxton Wants to Do It Himself, by Jim Malewitz – Seeking to fight scandal-plagued Volkswagen alone, Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking two Texas counties to halt their lawsuits against the automaker.    

Cornyn: Mental Health Legislation Provides New Tools, by Johnathan Silver – In Austin on Monday, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn promoted federal legislation that would require mental health checks before denying anyone the ability to purchase firearms.

Santorum Says GOP Fails to Connect with Workers, by Jordan Rudner – The Democratic Party has done a better job than the Republican Party connecting with low-income voters frustrated by a persistent “wealth gap,” GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum said in North Texas Monday.   

Abbott Enters Fray Over "In God We Trust", by Johnathan Silver – In a letter to Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lent his full support to the Childress Police Department, which recently came under fire for displaying the motto "In God We Trust" on its patrol vehicles.   

San Antonio Rally Key to Clinton's National Strategy, by Aman Batheja – Hillary Clinton's visit to San Antonio later this week will kick off a concerted outreach to Latino voters nationally. But supporters say the campaign is also hoping to run the table in the Texas primary in March.

Patrick Asks Senators to Study School Choice, by Kiah Collier – "School choice," including controversial tax credit scholarships, tops a lengthy list of public education issues Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has asked state senators to study ahead of the 2017 legislative session.

Cruz: Changing Primary Schedule Would Be "Lunacy", by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz opened a packed swing through early-voting Iowa on Monday by blasting leaders in his own party for contemplating changes to the presidential primary calendar, calling it “lunacy” and a “terrible idea.”

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott’s grassroots tour of Texas comes to an end, with a final stop in Houston. He will give a speech to tout the legislative session’s successes and share his plans for the state at Cafe Adobe at 2 p.m.

Elsewhere

The Families Funding the 2016 Presidential Election, The New York Times

Clinton racks up local endorsements, San Antonio Express-News

Cruz faults Senate rivals for skipping pressing debates, The Associated Press

Mayoral candidates step up attacks in campaign's homestretch, Houston Chronicle

The man behind the Don Zimmerman ethics complaints, Austin American-Statesman

John McCain’s Comments on Bowe Bergdahl Bring Rebuke From Lawyer, The New York Times

Texas lawmakers want to know why state paid $2.2 million for flawed PTSD research on vetsThe Dallas Morning News

Grassroots network forms to monitor fracking front, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Texas lawmaker uninjured when he crashes plane into fence, The Associated Press

Audit finds weakness in HISD bond management, Houston Chronicle 

Quote to Note

"I'm a pistol packin' mama and my husband sues Obama..."

— Angela Paxton, Attorney General Ken Paxton's wife, in a song she wrote and performed for the Golden Corridor Republican Women's club. Paxton's song centers around her life, love for pistols and her husband suing President Obama.

Today in TribTalk

There's a role for God in governing – but it's limited, by Elliott Naishtat — Routinely, I hear my colleagues citing scripture to make their case, and voting by faith instead of what’s necessarily in the best interests of the people of Texas.

News From Home

•    In the 2015 Texas legislative session, state lawmakers frequently used their religious beliefs to defend their policymaking. Take a look back at "God & Governing," our documentary-style series on the role lawmakers' personal faith played in their legislating. And watch the video from our live "God & Governing" event, featuring four state legislators.

•    The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, nonpartisan digital media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — on politics, policy and statewide government. We rely on member support and hope you’ll consider joining our community today.

•    The fifth-annual Texas Tribune Festival is just THREE 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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