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The Brief: Oct. 22, 2015

The decision by George W. Bush to say he doesn't like Ted Cruz at a fundraiser for the former president's brother, Jeb, is drawing attention again to the complicated relationship between Texas' junior senator and the Bush family.

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The Big Conversation

The decision by George W. Bush to say he doesn't like Ted Cruz at a fundraiser for the former president's brother, Jeb, is drawing attention again to the complicated relationship between Texas' junior senator and the Bush family.

The Tribune's Patrick Svitek notes this tension is "nothing new" but that the presidential race in which both Cruz and Jeb Bush are vying for the Republican nomination continues to add fuel to the fire.

"The episode is again drawing attention to one of the central tensions in Cruz's political universe: his years working for — and enthusiastically supporting — the same Bushes who now symbolize the GOP establishment he is torching in his White House bid," Svitek writes.

Svitek adds, "Cruz's allies argue there is nothing wrong with Cruz working for the Bushes then criticizing parts of their records — not personally attacking them — with the benefit of hindsight." Svitek writes that the Cruz camp and its allies are telegraphing the message that they are grateful for Bush's disapproval.

"My fingers ache because I’ve been writing thank you notes all day to establishment people for basically endorsing Ted Cruz by broadcasting to the grassroots that he’s the one they fear," Kellyanne Conway, a GOP pollster who leads a pro-Cruz super PAC, told Svitek. The former president's comments, she added, show that Jeb Bush is no longer seen as an impossible-to-beat fundraiser who can capture and maintain presidential frontrunner status.

Trib Must Reads

Lawsuit Aims to Prevent Licensing of Detention Centers, by Julián Aguilar – A coalition of immigrants’ rights and civil liberties groups have filed suit claiming Texas hastily created a new type of state license that might allow two controversial detention centers for illegal immigrants to remain open.

San Antonio Water Utility Leader Defends Vista Ridge, by Kiah Collier – The ousted author of a study that describes a controversial San Antonio water supply project as “high risk” squared off with the head of the city’s water utility Wednesday, questioning — among other things — whether an extra 16 billion gallons of water per year would diminish the city’s pioneering water conservation efforts.

Fighting Charges, Paxton Recuses Self from Some Duties, by Patrick Svitek – The office of Attorney General Ken Paxton says he is recusing himself from some of his professional responsibilities as he fights an indictment on securities fraud charges.

Report: Texas Makes Strides in Energy Efficiency, by Jim Malewitz – After a years-long tumble, Texas has taken a major leap forward in an annual state-by-state ranking of energy efficiency policies — those aimed at slashing utility bills and carbon emissions by curbing energy use.    

Texas Poised to See New Low in Death Sentences, by Jolie McCullough – Texas is on track to see fewer death sentences handed down in 2015 than in any other year since the state’s death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Elsewhere

Democrats call for investigation after Texas moves to cut Planned Parenthood from MedicaidThe Dallas Morning News

Police chiefs gather to call for prison reformsHouston Chronicle

Greg Abbott’s campaign: For a $25 contribution, the chance to win Texas-made shotgun, The Dallas Morning News

City staff suggests pushing back annexation votes until the springSan Antonio Express-News

Ethics Commission opinion could affect Paxton defense costsHouston Chronicle

Some Texas Republicans resist Paul Ryan for House speaker,  The Dallas Morning News

Dem stalwart Mikal Watts indicted, San Antonio Express-News

Wendy Davis political future won’t include another bid for SD 10Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Abbott to D.C.: Stop sending our gas taxes to other statesThe Dallas Morning News

Paxton Recuses Himself From Some AG's Office DutiesTexas Lawyer

Quote to Note

"I hope to support a candidate from Senate District 10 who is going to reflect the priorities of the people who live in that community, rather than the very narrow priorities that are being reflected by the current senator in office. But it won’t be me.”

  Former state Sen. Wendy Davis on her future in politics and her decision not to run for the seat she once held in the Texas Senate.

News From Home

•    A half-century after NASA began pursuing human spaceflight from Houston, Texas has again become the epicenter of an emerging space industry. SpaceX, the brainchild of billionaire Elon Musk, and Blue Origin, the venture of tech entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, have both hatched plans to launch commercial rockets from Texas sites. But they haven't won over their new neighbors. Take a look at the Tribune's latest investigative, multimedia project – Starstruck.

Today in TribTalk 

Access Delayed is Access Denied, by Marva Sadler – It breaks my heart to know that women are not able to get the care they need, when they need it — and with the full measure of respect and dignity each of us deserves.

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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