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The Brief: Oct. 16, 2015

New federal campaign reports released on Thursday present a portrait of a free spending Rick Perry presidential campaign weeks before Perry dropped out of the race.

Former Gov. Rick Perry announces his 2016 candidacy for president June 4, 2015, in Addison, Texas.

The Big Conversation

New federal campaign reports released on Thursday present a portrait of a free-spending Rick Perry presidential campaign weeks before Perry dropped out of the race.

As the Tribune's Patrick Svitek reports, the campaign spent about four times as much as it raised between July 1 and Sept. 30. The campaign reported spending $1.1 million.

"Among Perry's largest expenses was $200,000 to Abstract Communications, an Austin-based firm owned by his former campaign manager, Jeff Miller," Svitek writes. "In its last campaign finance report, Perry's campaign said it paid nearly $400,000 to the firm, which offered a variety of services such as video production and website development."

But even with a faltering fundraising effort, Svitek notes that Perry was still receiving big dollar contributions from a number of familiar folks, including "San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt, hair products magnate John Paul DeJoria and Haley Barbour, the former Mississippi governor whose son ran a now-defunct super PAC supporting Perry. Perry also collected a $2,700 check from David Botsford, a member of the legal team fighting his indictment."

Trib Must Reads

Vela to Host Major South Texas Fundraiser, by Abby Livingston – A band of powerhouse congressional Democrats is headed to South Texas this weekend to headline a fundraiser bolstering the campaign coffers of U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela's re-election campaign. 

Texans Wanted in New Round of Obamacare Signups, by Edgar Walters – The next round of signups for health insurance under the Affordable Care act is two weeks away, and federal officials are lowering their estimates of how many will enroll. But uninsured Texans are a particular target.  

Alamo Historic District Prepares for Change, by Madlin Mekelburg – Representatives from the Texas General Land Office, the city of San Antonio and the Alamo Endowment Board put pen to paper Thursday, signing an agreement to develop a master plan for the Alamo Historic District and Complex. Past efforts have failed, but state officials are optimistic that this time the plan will stick.

Austin Council Votes to Boost Solar Power, by Jim Malewitz – Austin is poised to dramatically expand its solar footprint after the City Council on Thursday directed Austin’s utility to line up contracts adding 600 megawatts of solar power to the city's energy mix by the end of 2019. 

In Season of Outsiders, Cruz Practices Patience, by Patrick Svitek – With Ben Carson and Donald Trump lodged at the top of the GOP presidential polls, Ted Cruz's campaign is signaling its readiness for a long-haul effort to prove he is the true vessel of anti-Washington sentiment.

In San Antonio, Clinton Emphasizes Early Activism in Texas, by Patrick Svitek – Emphasizing her early activism in South Texas, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton rallied supporters Thursday with a promise to continue the work she started in the state more than four decades ago.   

Clinton on Castro VP Buzz: I'll "Really Look Hard at Him", by Patrick Svitek –  Accepting Julián Castro's endorsement Thursday, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton addressed the speculation he could serve as her running mate, saying she plans to "really look hard at him for anything."

Education Commissioner Williams Leaving at Year's End, by Kiah Collier – Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams informed Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday morning that he will step down from his position at end of the year, Williams' office confirmed.

The Day Ahead

•   Join us for The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin. Not at the Festival? You can keep up with the keynote sessions, which are being livestreamed. For a complete schedule, click here.

Elsewhere

Paxton hearing on Friday canceled; judge to issue written ruling on motionsThe Dallas Morning-News

Bush, Rubio start October with about $10 million each, The Associated Press

Texas education commissioner will step down Jan. 1Austin American-Statesman

Lawmakers call for removal of bust of Sanger from exhibitFort Worth Star-Telegram

Abortion at the Supreme Court’s Door, The New York Times

Opting out: Inside corporate America’s push to ditch workers’ comp, ProPublica 

Documents Offer New Insight Into Texas-China Ties, Al Jazeera America

How accusations of City Hall yelling became a felony investigation, The Dallas Morning-News

Immigration lesson: Most new Texans are from Asia, not Mexico, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Hammer comes down on the Latin Kings in South Texas, San Antonio Express-News

Company touts $36B impact of high-speed rail, but skeptics unmoved, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"We didn't think the house would be in danger this time. We got out with only the clothes on our backs – and our dog. That's all. I just don't think I can talk about it. I just can't think about it right now."

Anne Smarzik, whose home burned down in this week's wildfire in Bastrop. Her home survived the 2011 fire, though most of the trees surrounding were wiped out. 

Today in TribTalk

How Cruz's strategy to support Trump could propel him to the top, by Brian W. Smith – Most Republican presidential candidates have attacked Donald Trump’s frontrunner campaign. But Sen. Ted Cruz has made the conscious choice to embrace it — and it's paying big dividends.

News From Home

•    We’re on the homestretch for our Fall Member Drive. Help fund our 2016 initiatives of more investigations and reaching more Texans by chipping in today!

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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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