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The Brief: Nov. 5, 2015

A day after voters went to the polls, Houston Democrats were in the tough position of learning lessons from a pair of bitter surprises.

Supporters of Houston’s Proposition 1 hug on election night in Houston, Texas on Nov. 3, 2015.

The Big Conversation

A day after voters went to the polls, Houston Democrats were in the tough position of learning lessons from a pair of bitter surprises.

The Tribune's Patrick Svitek and Alexa Ura surveyed the aftermath: "It was the less foreseeable outcomes that stung Democrats the most Tuesday night. After polling foreshadowed a close vote, the embattled discrimination ordinance, better known as HERO, was soundly rejected by 61 percent of voters. (Former Harris County Sheriff Adrian) Garcia, who entered the race as a favorite for the runoff, finished a distant third, dislodged from the No. 2 spot by Republican-leaning former Kemah Mayor Bill King."

A basic issue, Svitek and Ura wrote, was turnout, which totaled fewer than one-third of registered voters and hurt Democrats more than a better-organized GOP. The Houston Chronicle's Katherine Driessen highlighted on Wednesday another obstacle facing HERO: widespread opposition in majority black City Council districts.

Driessen wrote that those districts "were among those most decisively rejecting the law Tuesday, including District B and District D, where 72 percent and 65 percent of voters, respectively, opted to repeal the law.

"Opponents of the law, meanwhile, focused almost singularly on the fact that the law would allow men dressed as women to enter women's restrooms. In their advertising campaign, they suggested this could include sexual predators. The approached worked, political scientists said. ... A more forceful economic argument most likely would not have changed the outcome of the election ... but it could have narrowed the margin and softened the defeat."

Overall, about 430,000 more Texans turned out to vote on Tuesday than in the 2013 constitutional amendment election. To see how turnout varied by county on Prop 7 to provide more dollars to the State Highway Fund, check out this visualization by the Tribune's Miles Hutson.

Trib Must Reads

Deficient Police Psych Reviews Prompt Revamp, by Terri Langford — After a Houston psychologist was discovered vouching for the mental health of would-be police officers without even meeting them, the state is revamping its approach to screening the psychological and emotional health of law enforcement applicants.

Paxton: Police Use of "In God We Trust" is Permissible, by Madlin Mekelburg – To no one's surprise, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a formal opinion Wednesday saying there's nothing wrong with the Childress Police Department sporting "In God We Trust" stickers on its patrol cars.

Brady Set to Be Named Next Ways and Means Chair, by Abby Livingston – U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady on Wednesday gained the upper hand in becoming the House's next lead tax-writer when he won the endorsement of a key House panel, two sources with direct knowledge of the panel's decision confirmed.  

Abbott: No Grants for Sheriffs who Don't Work with ICE, by Morgan Smith – If Texas sheriffs do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, they will face losing state grant money, Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday.

Ahead of 2017 Session, Straus Issues Directives for House, by Aman Batheja – House Speaker Joe Straus issued more than 150 interim charges Wednesday, directing committees to study issues such as the effectiveness of border security operations and the impact of the plummeting cost of oil on the local economy.

Cuellar: New Border Crossing Stats Don't Tell Whole Story, by Julián Aguilar – As the number of unaccompanied children apprehended on Texas’ southern border dropped by more than 40 percent in the 2015 fiscal year, a high-ranking border Democrat warns that the problem of illegal mass migration isn't close to being solved.  

UT to Pay Former Athletics Director About $3 Million, by Matthew Watkins – Former University of Texas at Austin Athletics Director Steve Patterson will receive up to $3 million from his old school after his "resignation," according to an exit agreement released by the school Wednesday.

Cruz Campaign Hires Texas State Director, by Patrick Svitek – The presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has hired a Texas state director to help deliver a home-state victory for the Republican presidential candidate.


Joe Straus avoids hot-button issues, in contrast to Dan PatrickAustin American-Statesman

How political ties apparently led Rick Perry to intervene in Oklahoma investigation of surgeon, The Dallas Morning News

Senators claim taxpayers paid for Texas teams to honor soldiers at games, local teams fire backThe Dallas Morning News

Texas Faults Schools For Not Helping Students With Disabilities, BuzzFeed

Defeat of Houston LGBT-rights measure may have broad impact, The Associated Press

Texas’ changing relationship to ObamacareMcAllen Monitor

Theories abound on courthouse defeatAustin American-Statesman

Racism? By whom? This video of Texas cops stopping a black professor is a racial ‘Rorschach test’The Washington Post

Former President George W. Bush: ‘Of course we can compete with China.’, The Dallas Morning News

Controversy erupts over Confederate flag at Austin Veterans Day paradeAustin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

"Certainly, as a city, we feel very, very good about his efforts to come to our great city and apologize for the actions of a not-so-sober person."

–San Antonio Councilman Roberto Treviño on hearing that Ozzy Osbourne will likely visit the Alamo on Thursday and issue an apology for relieving himself on a monument during a 1982 visit to the historic site. 

Today in TribTalk

Campus Carry is a Feminist Issue, by Lydia Longoria – The passage of campus carry legislation ignited firestorms across Texas, especially from feminists. However, with women making up a majority of college students and sexual assaults at universities on the rise, the concern over campus safety transforms into a gender issue. Feminists should be the biggest proponents of campus carry because denying women the right to protect themselves negates the intent of their movement.

Gun Violence is a Solvable Problemby Catherine Cubbin – The battle over firearms is too often presented as an all-or-nothing fight with no middle ground. For those who see guns as a problem, there is no easy solution to the widespread prevalence of them in our country. It is not necessarily a question of restricting all guns to all people, but how to make them safer and less accessible to children and those who would use them for ill purposes.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A conversation about the future of healthcare in Texas on Nov. 10 at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

•    A discussion about Public Education: The Next Five Years on Nov. 13 at the University of Texas at El Paso. 

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

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