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The Brief: Trump an Opportunity for Texas Democrats, Memo Says

An Austin-based Democratic pollster makes the argument that with the GOP presidential nominee's unpopularity, Texas Democrats have a chance to be competitive in more races.

Main stage inside the Alamodome during the Texas Democratic Convention on June 17, 2016

The Big Conversation

Democrats in Texas have reason to celebrate Donald Trump’s divisive candidacy, according to a pollster who says state Democrats have their greatest opportunities in a generation” this November.

Austin-based Democratic pollster Leland Beatty argues, in a memo obtained by The Texas Tribune, that several factors, including an anticipated drop in GOP straight-ticket voting, could provide beleaguered state Democrats their biggest opening in 20 years,” Patrick Svitek writes in the Tribune.

In addition to Trump’s unpopularity, Beatty pointed to many likely voters’ belief that corruption is widespread in Texas government” to conclude that Democratic challengers could be competitive in 20 of 39 contested state House seats held by Republican incumbents. One statewide race, for railroad commissioner, could be in play, too, Beatty suggested.

He acknowledged, though, that other factors could work against the Democrats — namely, money. Democrats in the House races he identified do not appear financially ready to compete, he wrote.

Trib Must Reads

Texas Seeks Temporary Block of Rules for Transgender Students, by Alexa Ura — The legal distinction between gender identity and sex will be central as Texas on Friday tries to block the Obama administration's order that public schools accommodate transgender students.

Congressional Panel Extends Review of Roger Williams Ethics Case, by Patrick Svitek — Congressional ethics investigators have decided to take a further look at U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, over a legislative amendment he pushed that allegedly benefited his car dealership.

Analysis: Texas Legislator Wonders if a New School Tax Might Bring Less Pain, by Ross Ramsey — State Rep. James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, wrote to his constituents about school finance and used these phrases along the way: statewide commercial property tax, consolidated funding districts, and statewide property tax. Yikes.

Former Bush National Security Aide: Trump is No Statesman, by Khorri Atkinson — William Inboden said Donald Trump has shown no interest in “learning the responsible behavior of a statesman” and warned that the GOP standard-bearer would risk the country’s national security and diplomatic relations abroad.

Prison Guard's Convicted Killer Wins Another Execution Stay, by Madeline Conway — Robert Lynn Pruett, convicted in the 1999 stabbing death of a state correctional officer, has won another stay of execution from a Court of Criminal Appeals judge. His lethal injection was set for August 23.

Seattle Seahawks to Stop Using "12th Man" on Social Media, Texas A&M Says, by Matthew Watkins — Texas A&M University has reached a new deal with the Seattle Seahawks to allow the NFL team to continue using the phrase "12th Man." There will be new restrictions on the use of the trademarked slogan, however.

Texas Tech to Begin Offering Degrees From a New Costa Rica Campus, by Matthew Watkins — Texas Tech University plans to open a branch campus in Costa Rica in 2018. Students there will be able to earn degrees in engineering, mathematics and other fields.

Tip of Mexican Sword Discovered at Alamo Dig Site, by Kirby Wilson — Archaeologists in San Antonio have discovered the tip of a Mexican sword near the mission's south wall. 

Elsewhere

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

HISD approves $1.24 million for renaming eight schools, Houston Chronicle

2 officials sacked for not reporting loss of birth records that could have exposed 1,500 Texans to ID theft, The Dallas Morning News

With Congress Deadlocked, White House Diverts Funds to Fight Zika, The New York Times

Tyler hospital fight with Blue Cross and Blue Shield appears resolved, Houston Chronicle

Where the Confederacy Is Rising Again, Politico Magazine

Harrold district at forefront of 2 gender-barrier issues, The Vernon Daily Record

NY police name K-9 in honor of slain Texas officers, The Associated Press

Quote to Note

“We’d get a rope!” 

— Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, asked what he would do if a Yankee tried to serve you chili with beans 

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   A Conversation with state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa and state Reps. Terry Canales and Bobby Guerra on Aug. 26 at UT Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg

•   The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

•   TribFeast: A Dinner To Support Nonprofit Journalism on Sept. 24 at the University of Texas at Austin's Etter-Harbin Alumni Center

•   A Conversation with state Reps. Four Price and John Smithee on Oct. 4 at Amarillo College in Amarillo

•   A Conversation with state Reps. Andrew Murr and Jason Isaac on Nov. 14 at Schreiner University in Kerrvile

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