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The Brief: Nov. 12, 2015

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are running neck and neck for the allegiance of Texas Republicans, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (left) and Donald Trump.

The Big Conversation

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are running neck and neck for the allegiance of Texas Republicans ahead of next year's presidential primary, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Each man was favored by 27 percent among likely Republican primary voters, as reported by the Tribune's Ross Ramsey. They polled well ahead of the 13 percent support for third-place finisher Ben Carson and the 9 percent support given Marco Rubio.

Less than four months remain before voters go to the polls in next year's party primary elections. While Cruz, Texas' junior senator, has consistently registered good levels of support in the UT/TT Poll, the big change here is the newfound strength of Trump. In the June edition of the poll, Trump had just 2 percent support.

“The summer of Trump had not started when we did the last poll,” (poll co-director Jim) Henson said. “He was not really in the race.”

The news isn't good for Jeb Bush, either. The UT/TT Poll found Bush to be the most disliked among the GOP field. Fully 25 percent said they wouldn't vote for the former Florida governor whose family roots in Texas are deep. Ramsey wrote that Bush "was doing especially poorly with Republicans who identify with the Tea Party — the most active voters in the GOP."

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton comfortably leads the field with 61 percent support among likely Democratic primary voters.

Over the next few days, the Tribune will highlight various findings from the UT/TT Poll. Tomorrow will feature attitudes toward various state and federal officeholders.

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Among registered voters in Republican primary races, the margin of error is +/- 4.21 percentage points; in Democratic primary races, it is +/- 4.57 percentage points.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Trib Must Reads

No Evidence Yet of Backlash to Houston HERO Vote, by Jordan Rudner – After it became clear that Houston’s non-discrimination ordinance would be trounced at the polls, Houston Mayor Annise Parker said she feared a “direct, economic backlash” for the city. So far, there's no visible evidence of one.

Patrick Calls on Miller to Halt Fee Hikes, by Jim Malewitz – Add Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to the growing list of those concerned about Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s effort to hike fees for a wide range of licenses, registrations and services the Texas Department of Agriculture provides.

Abbott Calls for Improved Veteran Health Services, by Jordan Rudner – Calling on the federal government to improve health care services for veterans, Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday said that decreasing the wait times for veterans seeking medical attention should be a national priority.

Sanders Campaign Ramps Up in Texas, by Patrick Svitek – Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign is expanding its footprint in Texas, opening a state headquarters and beefing up its staff in Texas.

Elsewhere

G.O.P. Fight Now a Battle Over What Defines a Conservative, The New York Times

Martin O’Malley brings his long-shot presidential bid to Austin, Austin American-Statesman

Prosecutors fire back over another of Paxton’s motions to throw out indictments, The Dallas Morning News

Costello backs Turner in runoff, Houston Chronicle

State wanted to cut F1 payments even more, records show, Austin American-Statesman

Musicians Struggle To Buy Insurance In A City That Thrives On Music, NPR

Burleson-Milam Property Owners Worry Vista Ridge Pipeline Will Drain Their Wells, Texas Public Radio

UT plan for Houston campus raises concern for effect on other schoolsAustin American-Statesman

In ACA's third year, reaching the uninsured remains a challenge, Houston Chronicle

2 County Jails Violate Standards, Officials Say, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"This ludicrous ordinance, like the one in Houston, reveals officials who are totally out of touch with Texas values."

– Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on the Dallas City Council's decision to add more protections for transgender residents to the city's nondiscrimination law. Anti-HERO activists may move their efforts to Dallas.

Today in TribTalk

To advance meaningful criminal justice reform, ban the box, by Karen Gross – President Barack Obama’s announcement last week to ban the box on federal job applications is a big deal. Obama’s executive action removes an obstacle standing in the way of convicted felons getting a first shot at employment.All of us concerned with both public safety and fiscal responsibility have an interest in removing barriers to employment for those who have served their sentence and are trying to move forward with their lives. 

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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

•    A conversation about Houston & the Legislature: What's Next? on Dec. 15 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston 

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